Chang promises swift resolution to the police’s compensation concerns
... outlines ‘Plan Secure Jamaica – The Road Map’ among other key issues
National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang has given the nation’s police a commitment that he and his team will be making themselves available to discuss all outstanding issues and concerns arising from the Government’s new compensation review agenda, which has not gone down well with some sectors of the nation’s workforce.
Speaking on the first day of the 80th Jamaica Police Federation Annual Joint Central Conference, in Trelawny, on Wednesday, Chang said he had taken note of some of the contentious issues and expressed confidence that the various issues would be resolved in a timely manner.
“I have taken note of the issues members are having as it relates to your income tax deductions. I am confident that these are matters that the Corporate Services and Finance Branch will resolve in a timely manner,” stated Chang.
“Members will recall that the Heads of Agreement speaks to a period of six months, following the signing, during which time errors and anomalies are to be reviewed and settled. I do not expect that this specific matter will take more than six months to be resolved.
In speaking to the virtues of the new compensation regime, which he described as simpler and more predictable and provides the base for a better pension benefit and a better starting point for future negotiations, the security minister said that when all the issues that are being worked through are settled, the new regime will prove far superior to what existed before.
“We can all agree that it is a reasonable system and a significant improvement on the system that was in place before. The simplicity of this new system provides a better basis for future discussions and negotiations,” continued Chang. “History will record that we were able to resolve a very difficult situation through collaboration and consultation. We are now at a place where our police officers have a more rational and competitive compensation package.”
As it relates to the nation’s security, Chang outlined key components of what he described as a ‘Plan Secure Jamaica – The Road Map’, which he said is the most integrated and enduring security programme that has ever been embarked upon in this country.
“Three of the broad strategic principles that the plan embraces are the strengthening of the security forces, the social transformation of challenged and vulnerable communities, and ensuring an effective legislative framework in which to operate,” noted Chang.
Effective police force
“As we make the necessary investments to strengthen the capacity of our security forces, we are doing so in a structured manner. Not in a piecemeal way, but structured, well-planned, adequately funded and properly executed.
“That is the only way to ensure that we have a strong and effective police force that is equipped to take on today’s criminals and prepared for tomorrow’s challenges.”
Chang also pointed out that the strengthening of the hinges around four fundamental pillars, which he named as follows:
(1) Fair and reasonable compensation for members;
(2) A well-crafted programme of development and expansion of the force;
(3) The professional development of members;
(4) Staff welfare.
In addition to the works done over recent years to improve and upgrade police facilities, Chang said the initiative would continue with plans to address other facilities such as the St Catherine North Divisional Headquarters, the Westmoreland Divisional Headquarters, the Specialised Operations West (St James), the Montpelier Training Facility (St James), the Kingston Metropolitan Region Headquarters, and the St Mary Divisional Headquarters and Port Maria Police Station.
Chang also spoke of plans to continue the ongoing digitisation of the police force, which will result in expanded network connectivity islandwide to support the process.
“This means things like the electronic station diaries, the electronic workforce management system, and the fleet management system are accessible across the police stations throughout the island,” said Chang. “The aim is to connect all police stations in the short to medium term. Twenty-first century policing is here, and our JCF officers are equipped with the latest technologies to function efficiently.”