JIS News

The Police Federation and the Government of Jamaica yesterday (Nov.10) signed a 24-point wage claim, which will see improvements in wages and fringe benefits for ranks and file members of the Force for the 2004/06 contract period.
The agreement, which was signed at the Ministry of Finance and Planning’s National Heroes Circle headquarters, will provide the police with a one-off payment of $50,000 with the majority of the sum being paid in December and the remaining amount in February of 2006.
Death benefits and funeral grants have increased by $500,000 and $50,000, respectively, while a provision of $60 million will be made available through the National Housing Trust to enhance housing benefits for members of the Federation and the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
The agreement came after some 31 contentious meetings and discussions between the Federation and technocrats from the Ministry of Finance and Planning since May of 2004, which required the intervention of Prime Minister P.J. Patterson; Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies; as well as National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips.
The Federation members were opposed to the move by government to not grant increases in salaries for the April 2004 to March 2006 period, in keeping with the public sector Memorandum of Understanding. The police had argued that having not signed the MOU, the provisions did not apply to them and had demanded increases of up to 40 per cent over the two-year period.
Even yesterday’s signing was delayed for about an hour as the Federation members and their lawyers poured over the language of the deal.
Chairman of the Federation, Corporal Raymond Wilson, explained that the delay was in order to ensure that “what was presented on paper was what had been discussed. We are seeking to ensure that what we got from the government is in keeping with what was discussed and that it will be of benefit in the correct way for the rank and file members.”
Corporal Wilson said he was appreciative of the ground covered so far and noted that negotiations would continue in good faith for the 2006/08 contract period. The talks are expected to begin in April of next year, and the Federation is putting together a package for delivery to the Government within six weeks.
“We expect to enter these negotiations with the understanding that the pace at which we negotiated this last package must change,” the Federation President stated.
Furthermore, he pointed out that the overall compensation for the police must be viewed in light of the task that the police have been given especially that of preserving life, while the issue of the 40-hour workweek would be brought to the table. “All we are seeking to do is to bring our conditions of work, our conditions and terms of employment and how we are seen and treated on par with what is accepted universally.and if we are treated properly, we will go out there and do our job,” Corporal Wilson stated.
In the meantime, Dr. Phillips said that although the negotiations were “long and difficult” the parties were to be congratulated for reaching a consensus. He agreed that there would be need for continued discussions and negotiations on matters relating to the welfare of the men and the women in the Force.