Take back the $1,000? Too late, Sarge! By accepting the allowance for the past few months, police have signed and sealed a contract. If the police now wish to decline the payment they?d have to prove (and evidence gathering is not their strong suit) the contract to be void or voidable. Is the Association suggesting cops were misled, lacked free will, mental capacity or material facts when they took the $1,000 last year? Demonstrate it.
To my knowledge, the Government never misrepresented the $1,000 extra; they did not call the allowance a salary, though the increase was arguably equivalent to a 17 percent raise. The Association took the deal, fully aware wage negotiations were at hand. If they wanted to hold out for the full 40 percent, maintain a strong bargaining position, they should have turned the extra money down. Strategy is as essential to negotiations as it is to police work. Surely they did not entertain the ludicrous belief they would get 40 percent plus $1,000 after repeated declarations by Government that the Treasury is empty. Oh yes they did — that?s what they are demanding.
I didn’t listen to the sergeant speak on Wednesday but when I read his statement later, I concluded the Police Social Welfare Association leadership had only recently realised the tactical implications of saying yes to the $1,000 increase last year and is really angry at itself. The Sergeant and his crew are also pouting because Monday’s strike action fell short of its intended objectives: incapacitating national security and strong arming the administration. It’s clear they are running out of bargaining chips. “Take back the $1,000” are desperate words from desperate men who would have us go bankrupt in the name of “national security”. There’s no price too high for security declares the Sergeant. Yes, there is. There must always be limits. The absence of spending ceilings is our national curse. Sympathy for industrial action has to be difficult to command too, after the $1,000 boost, when citizens may still be unsure what value they have got for the increase. A questionnaire which polls people about whether they feel safer or more protected since last year might demonstrate that the public are as stressed and lacking in morale now as they were then. Unfortunately for them, they are in no position to down tools when truly if anyone should be striking it should be the ordinary man and woman who cannot depend on the police to safeguard them at any wage.
The Police Welfare chief may call the Prime Minister Honourable when he makes reference to her but the Sergeant’s language since last year has fallen short of the level of exchange one has with the head of the executive. It is simply unseemly to say “Take the money back.” I never noticed the Police Association trying to browbeat Patrick Manning when he set up SAUTT and shifted resources and funds to the illegal outfit. Senior and junior officials repeatedly complained to the media that SAUTT was unfairly draining the regular police corps. They always spoke off the record. No strikes, no threats.
Some commentators have suggested politics are at play. I am beginning to wonder if it is not sexism- the Association believes it can bully Mrs Persad-Bissessar because she is a woman. The Prime Minister is neither dismissive nor arrogant. She has stated that she wishes she could double the salaries of all public servants. Her caring is possibly being mistaken for weakness. Weak she is not. Weak is the public, the country and for once it is not political hyperbole to suggest that cops who stay off the job during negotiations are unpatriotic. A patriot is a person who loves, supports and defends his country and its interests with devotion — for five percent or forty.