Prisons, fire associations upset at CPO’s 4 per cent wage offer

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Ceron Richards, president of the Prison Officers Association. –

PRISON Officers Association (POA) head Ceron Richards and Fire Service Association (FSA) head Leo Ramkissoon on Wednesday each voiced their upset to Newsday over the four per cent wage hike for 2014-2019 maintained by CPO Dr Darryl Dindial. This came after his initial offer of two per cent.

The proposed four per cent represents zero, zero, two, zero, zero, two for each year successively from 2014-2019.

Ramkissoon told Newsday, “We do not accept that offer.”

He said his association has presented rationale arguments for a better offer, to the CPO.

Ramkissoon said, at their meeting on Tuesday Dindial had viewed their arguments as quite compelling but had intimated that the state of the economy was a keep back, and even undertook to let known the FSA’s position to Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

“He (Dindial) will return within the two weeks, in writing, to respond.”

However, Ramkissoon said it was “demotivating and disappointing” to see four per cent still on the table.

“For us, the four per cent represents a cut in salary, a cut in wages. It does not in actuality, in real income, amount to an increase because the rate of inflation has far surpassed four per cent over that period.

Leo Ramkissoon, president of the Fire Service Association. –

“The rate of inflation would be more equivalent to a 44 per cent increase in the cost of living for that very same period. So four per cent for us doesn’t say anything of any real value to us.

“It’s a very difficult pill to swallow for fire officers. We cannot accept that at this time. We are advocating for better sense to prevail and great consideration to improve that offer.”

Ramkissoon said now was the time for a wage-hike, with the uplift in the economy.

“We’ve had at least one deposit into the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund and that’s always a good sign as it could only happen if there’s a surplus.

“We find it a difficult, difficult thing for us to accept a ‘wage cut’ while you are experiencing an improved economy, especially after the last ten years when we have gone without an increase, an improvement to wages and we did so without protest.

Richards, likewise, told Newsday, “We staunchly reject that offer, as we did before.”

The POA met the CPO on Tuesday.

Richards said officers were existing on 2013 salaries, even as inflation had raged through the economy since then to now.

“Prison officers have an additional situation in which their safety and security are being compromised by the work environment. For prison officers to maintain safety and security for themselves and their families, they have to spend money.

“We made it very clear from the onset that the basis upon which salaries must be developed for this period is, one, by looking at the market and then looking at what prison officers are continually exposed to.

“If the prison officer has to purchase a home, he cannot purchase a home in compromised areas.

“Members of the public can purchase a home anywhere and just mind their business and try to keep a low profile, but that situation does not exist for the prison officer who has no other choice but to purchase a home in an area which is upward of $1 million.”

Newsday was unable to contact Dindial.