Cops seek clarity on pay review
Any talks of salary increases or the controversial taxing of housing allowances for policemen and women on the ground can only come after associations within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) sign off on a controversial $11.8 billion compensation package offered by the government.
But the associations are demanding clarification on aspects of the proposals, debunking speculation that they have rejected the offer.
Instead, the associations are asking for patience from their members, some of whom have called for them to accept the proposal outlined by Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke.
Such decisions, the association presidents argued last Thursday, impact too many lives and for too long. Thus, they cannot be made without a clear picture of the details.
“That is part of the information that we are seeking to obtain, the go-forward position of the Government of Jamaica,” said Corporal Rohan James, chairman of the Jamaica Police Federation, when asked about pay increases for cops. “For that, too, we have still not been provided information as to what will be the way for future industrial relations.”
The federation represents rank-and-file members of the police force, but responses to the said questions of salary increases from Wayne Cameron, chairman of the Police Officers Association (POA), which represents gazetted officers, were also tethered to the agreement.
The same was true for other allowances, including the taxing of housing benefits, which are now under threat due to stipulations put forwards under the government’s latest proposal.
“We were advised that the compensation review will be for a period of three years, and the questions asked [about increases] were posed at one of our meetings,” Cameron explained, “The response was that we should go back to the bargaining table, but we don’t know what form that will take at that time. That question we will have to ask at another junction.”
“It is the end of the financial year, we know how you are thinking, and we know how you are feeling, but we have to express the challenges, and as soon as these challenges are ironed out, we will go and sign for your package,” Cameron told lawmen, noting that the pay scale of inspectors and assistant superintendents were at the same level.
In the meantime, James sai, “We have not rejected any aspect of compensation because that is not within the remit of the compensation review. We simply demand the information in totality from the Government.”
The chairaen’s sentiments offered little solace to one detective inspector, who equated the government’s latest offer to trickery, following wage freezes which he said have sent some members of the force packing it in. He said that based on the current offer, some benefits might be in jeopardy.
“Over the years the police have been negotiating with the government and some agreements like housing allowance we have come to enjoy,” he said, “Now, based on what the government is coming with, it seems they want to erode those agreements.”
Last Tuesday, Clarke urged the Jamaica Police Federation to accept the $10.2 billion pay package by the end of the month and to allow for discussions to continue on outstanding issues. He said that an additional $600 million has been offered to the POA, and another $1 billion to the District Constables Association.