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'It's not about the money'

Published:Wednesday | April 14, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

The Police Federation will be taking its grouse to Minister of National Security Dwight Nelson and Labour Minister Pearnel Charles.

A Gleaner investigation revealed that the federation would be relying on the government ministers to address at least three grouses, which have reportedly left the general membership of the federation upset.

On Monday night, Nelson said he had not yet received word from the federation, but stressed that he was willing to meet.

However, "on matters where policy decisions have been made by the Government, these decisions have to be respected," Nelson stressed.

"I am always willing to sit with them and listen to their grouses ... . If there is any area of concern that lies within my remit that I can be of assistance, I will certainly do my best to address," Nelson told The Gleaner.

Efforts to contact Charles failed.

Senior federation members say, contrary to popular belief, the focus at this time was not on monetary issues.

But they are angry at what they describe as a decision by the Police High Command to discontinue the overtime system.

"The focus is on the injustices that are being meted out to us," one member told The Gleaner.

The communications arm of the Police High Command, led by Karl Angell, could not be reached despite repeated efforts.

Senior members divulged that their complaints were related to perceived breaches of the overtime agreement, concerns about promotion and alleged heavy-handedness by the Police High Command.

12-15 hour shift

Influential federation members said that divisional commanders were instructed last Friday to implement a 12-15 hour shift, throwing the 40-hour work week into disarray.

Last Thursday, Finance Minister Audley Shaw told the House of Representatives that, in addition to the general 15 per cent, police had been granted an increase in respect of compensation for working more than 40 hours per week.

But the federation leadership is complaining that the situation is back to square one, as the current leadership of the Jamaica Constabulary Force does not agree with the position of the Government.

"The intervention of the ministers is very necessary at this time," a senior member of the federation told The Gleaner.

"This is a violation of a signed agreement between us and the Government."

Rank-and-file police personnel are also sore with the High Command over the issues concerning promoting.

They question the motivation of the Police High Command for refusing to promote many in their ranks.

Senior members of the federation are also livid with the High Command over what they describe as the scant regard being paid to the regulations and the rule of law they are mandated to enforce.

They complained that members were being dismissed without regard for procedure.

The federation members cited the case of Constable Michael James of the St James Division who was criminally charged and placed before the Montego Bay Gun Court.

They complained that although James was tried and acquitted he was dismissed on the basis of the same allegations.

Deputy commissioner in charge of operations, Glenmore Hinds, says the Police High Command has given priority to some areas but normal police activities continue.