PSA, prison officers reject CPO’s 4% offer

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PSA leader Leroy Baptiste –

THE Prison Officers’ Association of TT and Public Services Association (PSA) have rejected a four per cent increase for workers over six years between 2014 and 2019, offered by the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) on Friday.

Without going into details, PSA president Leroy Baptiste and Prison Officers’ Association head Ceron Richards vowed to respond accordingly.

This comes over a month after CPO Dr Daryl Dindial initially offered a two per cent increase over eight years.

Outraged by that proposal made to hourly-, daily- and weekly-rated workers of central government, the Tobago House of Assembly and Municipal Corporation employees, National Union of Government and Federated Workers promised to teach government a lesson.

On May 27, thousands of workers marched through Port of Spain demanding a better offer.

On Friday, Richards explained that the latest offer included no increase for the period 2014- 2015, a two per cent increase in 2016, no further increase for the period 2017-2018 and a two per cent in 2019. The allowances remain the same.

Richards said unions had hoped for better after their demonstration on May 27.

“We find this totally unacceptable and it is not within the expectation of our members. And because our members gave us a mandate, I know its strongly rejected by them and the executive team.”

From a job-evaluation exercise recently conducted by the union, Richards said an increase between 20 and 22 per cent would constitute a fair offer.

“Our proposal is market position which we believe is fair and just given the enormity of our portfolio of what we do in the prison service. It is a just proposal and the response thus far is way less then acceptable.”

Baptiste who spoke to Newsday while still at the CPO’s office on Friday night said, “Just like the others we have been offered a whooping four per cent over six years,” adding the union felt as though the CPO gave minimum effort in drafting and presenting the latest offer.

“We feel there was an attempt to subtly threaten the public officer with the fact that this could head to court if we don’t acquiesce to accept the four per cent. It was like a ‘take it or leave it.’ That was the signal being sent by the CPO.

“This is why we reject that approach, that bullying style of this administration. We reject this offer. The union will respond in time and accordingly.”

Baptiste said, from government’s approach to public servants over the years, he wasn’t surprised by the offer.

“I expect this is for the long haul. I think they are going to use the other arms of governance, including the court to strong arm their way to achieve a settlement. And they, in fact, may not re-engage in negotiation in good faith.”

On Tuesday, the Fire Officers Association was also offered a four per cent increase. Leo Ramkissoon rejected the offer describing it as “quite disrespectful.”

The unions have been given two weeks to response to the CPO’s latest offer.