The negotiations could start as early as today between Government, the Police Social and Welfare Association and the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO).

Sources revealed yesterday that a Government minister met with an executive member of the Police Social and Welfare Association and made the offer this past Tuesday, the second day of a sickout by hundreds of police officers.

The sickout was triggered by an impasse over the CPO’s offer of a five percent salary increase while the association demanded 40 percent.

Police security for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, President George Maxwell Richards and the Parliament was affected by the sickout on Monday and Tuesday and soldiers were called out to assist in their protection.

A Government minister was mandated to meet with the executive member of the police association as the Prime Minister felt she could not risk having the country’s security compromised by another sickout, which was referred to as “blue flu.”

“The Prime Minister is very concerned that the safety and security of the country could be at risk if officers continue with sickout action, and she has indicated that she wants the grievances of the officers settled in quick time and we support her in this,” a Government source said yesterday.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Government minister made a compromise offer of 20 percent to the police association executive member and Newsday understands the rest of the executive responded favourably when told of the revised proposal.

Sources said president of the police association Sgt Anand Ramesar faxed a letter to the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, at about 1.30 pm, in which he asked for a meeting with Persad-Bissessar.

The one-sentence letter read: “I request a meeting with you re Compensation for police officers.”

It was handed to Persad-Bissessar as she was addressing a meeting of Cabinet. She told the Cabinet what the letter was about and indicated her willingness to meet the association as early as today.

It remained unclear yesterday, where Government will get the money to pay the police.

However, it has been reported that Government was keenly aware of how citizens felt about crime, and was concerned about the country’s security during the rest of the Carnival season.

The police association called on officers to boycott duties at Carnival fetes and shows. There were concerns that such action would affect major shows this weekend such as the Chutney Soca Monarch finals at Skinner Park, San Fernando and Panorama semi-finals at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.

Government also wants to ensure the protection of citizens and visitors during the two days of Carnival parades on March 7 and 8.

The last time police officers received an increase in salaries was in 2007, and last October they received a $1,000 special allowance.

During yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair, Minister of National Security Brigadier John Sandy said Persad-Bissessar is willing to have discussions with the police.

“I know that the Honourable Prime Minister has indicated her eagerness to speak with them and I know that something good is going to come out of it,” said Sandy.

Reiterating that combatting crime remains the country’s number one priority, Sandy said, “We need our police officers. We need our soldiers.”

Sandy said he fully supports police officers in the war against crime because he has been out in the field with them and has never criticised them.

In an earlier faxed statement, Sandy said despite the two-day police sickout, statistics revealed there were no increase in crime during this period.

“The actions of some of the officers while regrettable, did not compromise the safety of the nation,” the statement read. “The Minister of National Security would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank the officers of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service for the hard work that they have been doing, even in the Parliament.”

There are more than 5,000 police officers who are members of the Police Social and Welfare Association who stand to benefit if the 20 percent increase is accepted by its executive.

Several officers yesterday said they are willing to accept the offer and are urging the association to do so in the interest of its members.

If the meeting with the Prime Minister takes place today, the association is expected to hold a general council meeting of members to discuss the latest development in its wage negotiations.



More in this section