Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Municipal police walk off the job

Officers protest poor working conditions, no $1,000 allowance as yet

The sick buildings protest has spread to the Port of Spain Municipal Police.

Officers yesterday reportedly staged a walkout from their posts at the Port of Spain Corporation, in protest of poor working conditions and the fact that they have yet to receive the $1,000 tax-free allowance which was promised to them by the Government.

The walkout reportedly consis­ted of about 100 officers, some of whom

told the Express yesterday they had no choice but to aban­don their posts as it was the only way they be­lieved their problems could be addressed.

“Up to now, we still can’t get our allowance, and every time we ask about it, we keep hearing, ‘Next month, next month.’ And then the conditions we are working in are, politely put, not even remotely in accordance with the OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) Act.

“We can smell excrement from the bathroom in our office, the ceiling is falling apart, the grounds are slippery and cracking up, we have rats and roaches in our building and that’s just the start. And we have complained and complained and no one seems to be hearing us. So we felt as though we had no other recourse,” a municipal officer said.

Speaking to the Express yesterday, secretary of the Police Social and Welfare Association, Inspector Michael Seales confirmed the association was aware of the walkout by the municipal officers and they were standing strong in their support of their brothers and sisters.

“The association would have visited them today (Wednesday) and they would have showed us a litany of woes, particularly, the whole issue of accommodation and the fact that most of it was a temporary, makeshift system to house them.

“Persons who sat at the welcome area, for instance, would have been

getting the stench of the toilets when persons go to use it. The place is cramped and the officers there would have that challenge. They said they

also have rats and roaches in their office area, an area which is, ironically enough, housed below the offices for the city’s health inspectors.

“And then there is the issue of the allowance which they have yet to receive. I find that whole thing surprising. That was promised to them months ago and it is very surprising that they haven’t gotten it.

“Cabinet approved it and des­pite several letters, including one from the permanent secretary to the Prime Minister, dated October 1 (2013), in which it was said this issue would be made a priority, these lawmen and women have yet to receive the allowance,” Seales said.

The officers are expected to hold a news briefing today to further discuss their issues.