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Cops question wage vote

Legitimacy of process in doubt as majority of lawmen accept new pay package

Published:Saturday | March 18, 2023 | 1:06 AMKimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter
Revised offer to police
Revised offer to police

There are questions being raised about the legitimacy of Thursday’s voting exercise which resulted in rank and file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) agreeing to accept the Government’s latest compensation offer.

The Gleaner has been reliably informed that 86 per cent of the more than 1,300 police who joined a virtual meeting of the Jamaica Police Federation voted to accept the offer.

However, since that time, the executive of the bargaining union has not officially communicated to its wider membership whether it has written to or intends to write the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service to make signing arrangements.

Several attempts by The Gleaner to get a response from Federation Chairman Corporal Rohan James on Friday were unsuccessful as calls to his cell phone went unanswered.

The Gleaner also contacted Jacqueline Brown, communications director of the Police Federation, but the inspector offered no comment on the matter.

But in WhatsApp correspondence seen by The Gleaner among Federation delegates, Brown apologised for the lapse in communication.

“The executive [does] have an obligation to communicate properly and in a timely manner concerning the meeting that was held. We will communicate. We sincerely apologise,” Brown wrote on Friday.

Several delegates who spoke to The Gleaner on condition of anonymity argued that the wider membership was not allowed to update themselves with the details of the offer presented before a window for voting was opened.

“There was a rush for members to vote which we have some serious concerns with,” one delegate said.

“The section of the JCF Act that governs these things was not followed. The platform was an open one at the time where anyone could have accessed it. Normally you would have to establish a quorum to include a percentage of constable delegates, sergeant, inspectors and so on in terms of ranks. That was not established,” the delegate argued.

The member said it was not communicated how many persons voted and noted, at the same time, that only delegates should have been allowed to vote.

Executive tight-lipped

There are more than 600 delegates within the Federation, The Gleaner was told.

“The executive has been very tight-lipped and being a delegate is very pressuring because members are asking questions that I can’t even answer. Most members are saying the vote was bogus,” the member said.

Another delegate told The Gleaner that there is unease among the members over what is being offered retroactively to some ranks.

“They are saying that the constables’ and corporals’ retro has been slashed and the inspectors’ retro has been increased. So whatever was offered, it favoured the inspectors over the constables and corporals,” the member said.

The retroactive payments presented to the Zoom meeting showed that constables are to receive $207,189.73, while corporals are to get $338,753.90, sergeants $579,823.65 and inspectors $612,427.14.

The delegate said “members have questioned the legality of the votes” since no feedback was sought from the wider membership before voting took place.

“We registered for the meeting but there was no question to say, ‘Are you a delegate? Are you a chairman or secretary?’ There was no screening question. So persons are of the view that it cannot be legal. Only delegates have the right to vote,” the delegate said.

“You’re seeing 86 per cent accepted [and] 14 per cent declined the offer. How did you arrive at that figure? Who voted? There is a level of uncertainty as to what will happen next. We’re not hearing anything; we’re not seeing anything,” the delegate added.

A third source with whom The Gleaner spoke questioned the actions of the executive, arguing that delegates voted “overwhelmingly” to accept the offer, but noted that the body is yet to communicate the way forward.

The source insisted that the result is legitimate and argued that “what is happening is not right”.

“A vote took place and that was the result of the vote but as it relates to what they are doing (the executive), only God can tell you,” the source said.

The revised offer for March, which was presented during the meeting, shows that inspectors are to receive between $4.5 million and $5.5 million for year one of the three-year implementation package under the new compensation review system. In year two, they are to receive between $4.9 million and $6 million while in year three, the proposed salary is between $5.5 million and $6 million.

For sergeants, the offer in year one is between $3.1 million and $3.8 million. For year two, they are to receive between $3.4 million and $4.1 million, while the year three proposal is between $3.8 million and $4.7 million.

Corporals are being offered between $2.4 million and $2.9 million in year one, between $2.6 million and $3.2 million in year two and between $3 million and $3.6 million in year three.

Meanwhile, police constables are being offered between $1.9 million and $2.3 million in year one, between $2 million and $2.5 million in year two and between $2.3 and $2.8 million in year three.