Police sick-out continues

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Hundreds of rank-and-file policemen and women stayed off the job for a second consecutive day yesterday, as they continue to press the Government for a better wage and fringe benefits offer.

Since Tuesday hundreds of police personnel, from constable to inspector, have been participating in an islandwide sick-out, which has had a crippling effect on the operations of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Reports are that the majority of the police involved in the protest action are expected to return today, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.

“We are waiting on Government to give us an improved offer so that we can start the negotiation process again,” said Corporal Hartley Stewart, general secretary of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file personnel.

But based on a letter sent to the Federation on Monday by Fitz Jackson, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, it is unlikely that the Government will make an additional offer.

The letter in part reads: “The Government is cognisant of, and appreciates the concerns of the federation. In an effort to respond positively to those concerns, the Government has searched long and hard for solutions. The Government’s efforts, however, had to be contained within the parameters of the medium term economic programme, which is predicated on a policy of wage restraint for the period 2004-2006.”

It further states that: “This policy has had a positive influence on Government’s macro-economic programme and you will no doubt agree that it is in the interest of all of us that the policy be maintained. Based on the foregoing, Government is again appealing to the Federation to reconsider its position in the nation’s interest and accept the present offer of a one-off payment.”

The Government had earlier offered each member of the force a lump sum payment of $40,000.

Contacted yesterday, Cordel Braham, head of the Public Relations Department in the Ministry of Finance, told The Gleaner that the Ministry would not comment on the negotiations until they are concluded.

In the meantime, Opposition spokesman on National Security, Derrick Smith, has called on the Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips, to use his influence to have the protracted pay dispute with the police resolved as soon as possible.

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