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City cops upset over wage talks
Officers of the Guard and Emergency Branch continued to boycott several fetes, including Temperature IV (Boiling Point) at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Saturday night. The Municipal Police also join their comrades in the T&T Police Service and took sickout action from last night. They will continue today and tomorrow. The Municipal Police took sickout action on Friday to express their dissatisfaction over the lack of incentives offered by the Port-of-Spain City Corporation. Members of the T&T Police Service staged sickout action last Monday and Tuesday to express their disappointment with the five per cent wage increase offered by Chief Personnel Officer Stephanie Lewis.
They held a general council meeting last Friday at Gaston Court, Chaguanas, and came to this decision.
At that meeting, the membership told the association to convince the CPO of an additional $1,000, plus 20 per cent wage increase. Officers of the Court and Process Task Force had to step in to take up the slack at Temperature IV fete. Sources said members of the association were secretly planning to visit stations located in the Port-of-Spain Division and along the East-West Corridor and have officers “walk off the job today.” They said members of the association would also be gathering at a fete this week to discuss their next strategy.
A resolution was also passed during the meeting two weeks ago to blacklist members of the media from receiving information on any sickout plans. The officers said they “are upset with the current salary,” and claimed that four members of the T&T Police Service were squatting on State lands, while another officer was currently living out of his car. A city police spokesman said the officers did not receive 60 per cent of salaries allotted to members of the T&T Police Service and the $1,000 special allowance or compensation from their wrecking duties.
On Friday, a skeletal staff primarily of administrative officers manned the city police office as 90 per cent of officers stayed away from duty. Employees at various ministries were locked out of their offices until 10 am because the keys were lodged at the city police office. They also had the keys to Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office and other offices. The spokesman said to date, officers had not been paid for duties in Operation Horizon, carried out by Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing. “The workers are very disgruntled...We are even paid less than the Special Reserve Police, yet we pick up more extra duties than regular officers,” the spokesman said.
General secretary of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association, Michael Seales, said: “We have lost all confidence and faith in the Minister of National Security.” Seales said it was unprofessional that there were officers waiting 30 years to get a Housing Development Corporation home. “These are officers who have been working in service for so long and cannot afford the basic commodities such as a house,” he said. “It’s a volatile situation but we are willing to work in the best interest of the country.”
Sources said meetings with the Government scheduled for last week Wednesday fell through and a next meeting with the Prime Minister would be held on Wednesday.
However, Senior First Division officers said yesterday said: “We do not sanction and support that action...It is only a bunch of lazy, dissident officers who are doing that.” Minister in the Minister of National Security Subhas Panday said “I have confidence in the Police Service and that they will work today for the security and interest of the country.” MP for Laventille East/Morvant and former minister in the Ministry of National Security Donna Cox said: “The Government needs to meet with them and discuss their proposals...Let them know what they can afford to do.
“With the crime situation, that is what is taken seriously and they should listen to the concerns of the police and there should be proper dialogue,” she said. “I will expect the city police to grouse because they are not paid the allowance and they work as hard as the regular officers.” Asst Deputy Police Commissioner Stephen Williams and Asst Commissioner Raymond Craig refused to comment on the matter. Attempts to contact National Security Minster John Sandy who is out of the country and president of the association Sgt Anand Ramesar proved futile.
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