Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, is assuring the nation that contingency measures have been put in place to mitigate the impact of the protest action taken by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
Mr. Bunting informed that Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) personnel have been called out to support the police.
“We will strengthen these contingencies even as we appeal to the Police Federation to end its protest action and return to the negotiations,” he said.
The Minister was speaking during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, June 2, where he gave an update on the unfolding protest action by members of the Police Federation, which commenced on June 1.
The protest action arises from an impasse in wage talks between the Ministry of Finance and Planning and the Central Executive of the Police Federation.
Mr. Bunting informed that the Ministry of National Security has been playing an important role throughout the period of the negotiations.
“The Ministry has maintained a position that the players at the bargaining table, in the spirit of sincere industrial relations practice, must give the process time to work,” he said.
He noted that the Government wants to offer better pay to the police and other civil servants, but noted that “any offer must be governed by the inherent ability of the Government to pay.”
Mr. Bunting told the House that the Ministry of Finance and Planning has put on the table, an offer of 6.5 per cent in year one, and 5.5 per cent in year two.
He said this comprises a 3.5 per cent per annum increment, which every JCF member receives, plus the additional three per cent offer in year one and two per cent in year two.
The Minister called on the police to discontinue the protest action. “We consider it unfortunate that the Police Federation chose to pursue this course of action, which is not appropriate for an essential service. It exposes the public to unnecessary risk, and may cause significant harm to the professional image of the JCF, which has been improving in recent years,” the Security Minister said.
He said the action by the police has affected most Resident Magistrate Courts across the island, in addition to the Supreme Court in Kingston as well as the Family Court and Traffic Court.
“It is important that the Police Federation returns to the negotiations immediately and persuade their members to resume normality,” Mr. Bunting said.
By Latonya Linton
Photo by: JIS Photographer