Police delegates called to emergency meeting this morning
A day after the executive of the Jamaica Police Federation expressed fears via WhatsApp messages that it could be sued over the legitimacy of the vote taken last Thursday in which it was alleged that more than 600 bogus ‘yes’ votes were recorded, an emergency meeting has been called for this morning at 10:00.
Members were notified via WhatsApp message yesterday that the deputy police commissioner for administration was requesting that delegates make themselves available for Sunday’s meeting.
“Good morning, colleagues. Please facilitate Jamaica Police Federation delegates under your command to attend an emergency meeting at 10 a.m. Sunday. The venue will be announced,” read one of the messages seen by The Sunday Gleaner.
This is the latest in the saga of the poll taken on Thursday in which members have charged that the process was “corrupted as more than 1,300 persons voted, at least 600 of whom were not delegates”. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of the government’s wage offer under the reclassification of scales of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
Prior to yesterday’s notification, a WhatsApp message to members acknowledged that Thursday’s virtual meeting was affected by glitches due to power outages and loss of internet connection. However, delegates charged that the online platform was not secured and some legitimate delegates were unable to vote, while ineligible individuals voted in other person’s name.
One delegate told The Sunday Gleaner yesterday that what happened on Thursday was a disgrace.
“The people who sent me to the meeting told me to vote no. Because of the problems we had with power going in and out, I was unable to vote, but my people told me that I voted yes. But I did not vote. When I saw that 1,300 people voted, I said to myself, it must be a bogus vote because there are 600 delegates,” the policemen shared, on condition of anonymity.
“There is no way that that poll could stand. And as far as I am concerned, if it is not retaken, irrespective of which way it goes, the situation will be untenable. The current executive led by Corporal Rohan James should step aside immediately.”
Following Thursday’s voting, a WhatsApp message under the signature of James was sent to the membership. It acknowledged problems, but made no mention of the numbers who voted, nor those who were allowed to vote. The message provided a percentage breakdown of the votes. It also said the finance ministry would be formally written.
‘RIDDLED WITH FRAUD’
Another cop who also spoke to The Sunday Gleaner admitted to voting to accept although not a delegate.
“The process was riddled with fraud, from the voting, to persons voting for less than what they rejected before. I was able to vote and I am not a delegate. So who said john public did not access and voted also,” the policeman asked.
Corporal James has not spoken to the media since the vote, nor responded to requests for interviews.
The policeman has lashed out at the Federation, calling them “sell-out” and wants the inspectors booted from membership of the body. He said since there are now more than 500 inspectors, they should form their own association.
“I don’t know how you can say is a better offer and people end up with less than the bad offer. Every other rank from sergeant come down lose and the inspectors benefit. And furthermore, they need to leave the Federation, because they were only allowed in because they have less than 500 members. Now that they have more, they should form their own body,” said the policeman.
Noting that he could be fined up to $1,000,000 for speaking out, he said what has happened since Thursday is a mess.
The Sunday Gleaner can confirm that there are more than 500 inspectors in the JCF. Some inspectors, too, have expressed a desire to leave the Federation.
The rules of the Police Federation state that the Inspectors of the Force shall form a branch of the Federation and in each police division there shall be a branch board for Corporals, Sergeants and Constables. Section 67 (1) of the Second Schedule of the JCF outlined the membership of the Federation.
“The Federation shall consist of all members for the time being of the Force below the rank of Assistant Superintendent and the Federation shall act through Branch boards, Central Conference and a Central Committee as is hereinafter provided,” it reads.
TERM LIMITS NEEDED
More specifically, Section 2 (a) said: “Subject to the provision of paragraph (b) that members of the Force below the rank of Inspector stationed in any police division shall form a branch of the Federation.” Paragraph (b) states that, “There shall be a constituted Branch board for Inspectors.”
Elections to choose new branch board members are to be held shortly, and the policeman said the general membership “is sick and tired of current crop” and want them out.
Continuing he said, “Honestly, the Federation has sacrificed the constables, corporals, and sergeants in the wage negotiations. What you have is a demoralised lower rank, and no new offer.”
He also wants term limits of no more than two years for the executive of the Federation, charging that “if they were not benefiting they would not want to be on the executive for so long”.
He is urging members to offer themselves and challenge the current executive on term limits. He does not believe he has enough years to challenge for a position.
“Everybody has heard about the now retired James Forbes, when he was Federation chairman. I was not a member of the Force yet, but people who were there talk over the years that he was the only one who looked out for rank and file,” he said.
The retroactive payments presented to the virtual meeting on Thursday 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.