CORAL SPRING, Trelawny — Opposition spokesman on national security, Peter Bunting has described the timing of Government's recent steep salary hike for politicians as an act of deception.
"It was conducted without integrity because the politicians' fat salaries were hidden until 99 per cent of the public servants had already settled. If it was justified why were not the proposed settlements for all groups, including politicians, put on the table when the negotiations were taking place?" Bunting questioned.
"They [Government] didn't hide it effectively because the chairman [of Police Federation, Corporal Rohan James] signalled something fishy when he made a statement to the effect that 'we will not accept the crumbs'," Bunting added.
Addressing day one of the two-day Jamaica Police Federation 80th Annual Joint Central Conference underway at the Ocean Coral Spring Resort in Trelawny on Tuesday, Bunting also claimed that workers were bullied into accepting the Government's offer.
"I say the negotiations were conducted without integrity because when it suits the Government it says junior doctors received 200 per cent increase but when a doctor calculates the difference in the take-home payslip before and after the changes, the actual increase is 33 per cent," Bunting argued.
"I say 'without respect and sensitivity' because the tone of the negotiations was one of bullying, rushing to meet arbitrary deadlines, promoting misinformation within the membership, and division within the leadership of the associations representing public sector workers," he added.
Bunting promised that a future People's National Party (PNP) Government will fix the "unfair" salary review of the rank and file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
"The Opposition People's National Party acknowledges that the rank and file members were unfairly treated in the salary review. This needs to be fixed, and if not done now, then a future PNP Government will do so," he vowed.
"In the meantime, Government must not be allowed to stop the annual increment. They must ensure that the overtime regime — a promise long made — [will] be properly and effectively implemented.
"The rolling in of allowances which were tax-free into your taxable salary necessitates an increase in the tax threshold to reverse some of the increases now being paid by the rank and file," he added.
In his address to the conference, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang assured those gathered that there is a six-month period after the controversial compensation review "to look at all the issues of anomalies, corrections and what is required [so as] to ensure that we have a sensible system in place".
He alluded to the sharp increase in income tax, especially for some police officers whose salaries have increased.
For instance, the security minister said, he had seen a deputy superintendent of police's pay advice which showed income tax had moved from $600,000 to $2.1 million.
"We are aware that there are some issues; some of them are errors. There is, of course, the tax issue. A number of members have moved up the tax bracket. I am happy that we were able to move a number of constables from below the tax review to above; it was ridiculous. But a number of officers, especially in the middle level of the profession who have moved up the tax bracket, have really certainly found that the gross versus the net is really some issue. I am not going to make any promises here but we really have to discuss it," Dr Chang said.
Police Federation chairman, Sergeant James agreed that there are outstanding anomalies that remain to be settled.
The two-day event is being held under the theme 'Focuses Together: One Path, One Goal, through Excellence and Commitment'.