The Government has agreed to the establishment of a pension programme for District Constables as a component of the 2010/2012 Heads of Agreement with the island's police groups.
Another notable feature of the agreement is that the police groups will forego wage increase for the period.
Speaking at the signing of the agreement at the Finance Ministry's Heroes Circle offices in Kingston on October 2, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, noted that the pension programme is a significant milestone.
"I always felt that it was an unfortunate feature of the conditions of employment of district constables. The fact is that so many people work for decades in the service of the Jamaican public and at retirement age are not pensionable. I am happy that the government has now committed to a very important principle of making district constables pensionable," the Minister said.
The 2010/2012 Heads of Agreement was signed by the Government and representatives from some five police groups, namely, the Police Officers Association, Jamaica Police Federation, Island Special Constabulary Force Officers Association, Special Constabulary Force Association, and the United District Constables Association of Jamaica.
The establishment of the pension programme is among a number of social and welfare items offered to the members of the security forces, including the implementation of an Emergency Medical Fund for diagnostic services, the provision of a fully equipped ambulance for the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s convalescent home, and the re-implementation of a workplace care centre for children of staff members.
Meanwhile, the Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, expressed appreciation for the professional and forthright approach which was taken by the various police representatives during the negotiation process.
He further noted that it is critical to start negotiations for the 2012/2014 Heads of Agreement, as there are important matters to be discussed and decided on.
"We must move ahead with the negotiations for that new phase immediately, because there is no doubt that the kind of outlook of economic stability which we seek is going to depend upon, not only us here, but the other groups in the public sector having some understanding as we move forward into the medium term," the Minister said.
For his part, Chairman, Jamaica Police Federation, Raymond Wilson, said while he is not completely satisfied with all aspects of the agreement, he understood that it is a matter of "giving and taking."
He pointed out that as the groups moved towards further discussions for the 2012/2014 agreement, there are a number of matters that must be addressed. Among these, he said, is the implementation of a 40-hour work week for police officers.
Mr. Wilson noted that this matter had been agreed to from as far back as the 2008/2010 negotiations, but has not been finalised to date.
"We know what the challenges are, and we are not putting blame totally at the feet of our employers. But we stand ready to give the (necessary) support in bringing to reality, equity in the public sector, where police officers, like any other worker, can enjoy the benefit of a 40-hour work week," he said.
Mr. Wilson also pointed out that the establishment of a fund to provide financial assistance to the family members of police officers who lost their lives on the job is important. "It is hard when a police man is killed serving his community and sometimes as long as two to three years, there is no money coming forward to assist (his family members)," he said.