Close on the heels of health sector workers, more public sector workers are coming forward pleading for wage negotiations to be concluded.
The Government has forked out $39 million to pay healthcare workers with the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) and is addressing the complaints of other RHA workers following protests in June.
This time, the protective services, inclusive of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social and Welfare Association (TTPSSWA), Prisons Association and Fire Service Association, yesterday met with Minister of National Security Stuart Young to discuss outstanding salary negotiations.
The associations said their membership continues to work under 2013 salaries and allowances.
The Express understands that in March, the TTPSSWA sought a meeting with Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Darryl Dindial to discuss salary negotiations. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, they were unable to convene such a meeting.
Two months later in May, another attempt was made.
Yesterday, the associations held a meeting with Young, hoping he would be their advocate and meet with the CPO on their behalf.
Speaking with the Express after the meeting at Temple Court in Port of Spain yesterday, Fire Services Association president Leo Ramkissoon said: “Today, the protective services, consisting of the police, prison and fire service associations, met with the Minister of National Security in respect of outstanding salary negotiations for two consecutive periods, those periods being the 2014 to 2016 and 2017 to 2019 periods.
“Of course, the three bodies would have articulated that our members are very much dissatisfied at this time, given that quite a number of years have lapsed and no salary negotiations have been concluded on our behalf and, therefore, we sought an audience with our line minister as an advocate to get the process started, given that we would have been writing and doing all that we possibly can, submitted our proposals and so on, to get the process started.
“Our membership is clearly aggrieved by the failure to commence the salary negotiations and, at this stage, we have clearly placed on the table that our members are this time demanding that the process be initiated.... The Government now has an opportunity to address this shortcoming and, of course, we expect this to be done in very short order.”
TTPSSWA president Gideon Dickson said: “When we speak as protective services, we are not speaking solely as the three entities here. We are also speaking on behalf of the Defence Force.... Prior to the date of the election, all of us had got a mandate by our membership to treat with the issue of salary negotiations to have to be completed by at least September 1.
“The election has since been called and we understand it would have changed the dynamics somewhat.... For us to resolve anything, it has to take place around the roundtable, and we being denied of that process is unfair to our membership and, as such, we are calling for that process to convene in the shortest order.”
Addressing the concerns of prison officers, Prisons Association president Ceron Richards said: “Prison officers, police officers, fire officers’ need at this time is for us to engage in the process of collective bargaining. It is our right. Two outstanding periods, and we are in a third period, would have meant we are in a position or a place that is unprecedented. This has never happened in any of our tenure, and we need that issue to move along so that we can meet some sort of resolution.
“The minister has assured us that he would advocate on our behalf to the relevant persons who are charged with the responsibility to manage the process, and he will respond and get back to us with some sort of response as to what those persons would have said going forward.”
Richards added that in addition to Young, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert is a key person to advocate on their behalf to have the management of the negotiation process move along.
The associations said the meeting with Young was “fruitful”, and they were given the assurance he would advocate on their behalf and they would receive feedback within a few days.
As a result, they are now asking their members to remain “optimistic” about receiving their salary and allowance increases soon.
When asked if members of the protective services plan to take action if they do not receive a favourable response, Dickson said: “We are responsible associations.”