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Prisons’ officers, firemen give CPO a week to settle

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One week. This is the time the associations representing prisons’ officers and firemen are giving the Chief Personnel Officer Stephanie Lewis and Government to address their concerns. Members of  the two associations held a press conference at the Communications Workers Union, Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday.


One of the outstanding matters concerns a breach of parity in the nine per cent wage increase offer made to the Police Service by the CPO. Acting president of the Fire Services Association (FSA) Ashton Cunningham said the associations were calling on the Ministries of Finance, Public Adminstration, National Security, Justice and the Prime Minister to address the issue.


He added: “On the issue of the breach of parity among the protective services, we are all aware that the CPO has agreed to nine per cent to our brothers and sisters in the Police Service. “We are happy they have been able to attain such an offer but nine per cent is still much less than what our true worth is in the service, based on the 22 per cent upward movement by our comparators for the period 2008 to 2010,” he said.


Cunningham said the CPO needed to deal with the breach of parity and the need to re-establish principled compensation. He said: “We want them to address urgently this situation and restore parity among the protective services and trust in the negotiation process. Cunningham said during negotiations the CPO categorically stated that the State could not afford more than five per cent.


“This goes against the principle of parity in compensation among the protective service,” he added. Cunningham said the right to parity was established by the Ritson Commission in 1954 (which defined a number of problems in the existing structure and functioning of the public service) and the King’s Commission during the 1960s. “The principle of parity became government policy then and still remains government policy today,” he said.


Cunningham said the membership was dissatisfied and demoralised as a result of the situation and that could negatively affect their performance. President of the Prisons Officers Association (POA) Ceron Richards said: “We are giving them one week to report to both services. If they do not, we will interpret their intentions in a negative way but we want to ensure the public receives a good quality of life.”


He said the associations would then meet with their members and establish a course of action. General secretary of FSA Marlon Forde said a Cabinet minute  of September 25, 2008, mandated that members of the protective services should be allocated ten per cent of all government-constructed housing developments.


“From 2008, the selection criteria have not been honoured, as officers in both services have not benefited from the housing allocation, which has been raised by the association since 2008,” he said.


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