Police Welfare Association president Jefferson Drigo
Police Welfare Association president Jefferson Drigo

Zero- zero-zero-zero? No way!

That's the reaction of members of the Police Welfare Association (PWA) who are now locked in battle with government's negotiating team on new salaries for four years.

"The last time we met with government they offered us zero, zero, zero, zero for the triennium and we flatly rejected that", said Sergeant Jeffery James of the PWA executive. "We are schedule to meet with them again on September 5, 2019 and we are hoping that they will come with something much better than that".

According to the PWA, the cost of living in Dominica has "sky rocketed" and that government is able to accede to their demands.

"We are certainly not accepting the zero percent that the government is offering especially in light of the cost of living…we are expecting an increase for the period in question," said James, the PWA spokesperson on salary issues.

He continued: "We are asking for 15, 15, and 15 (percent increase) as a starting point for each year, and although I say 15, 15, 15 we are not going downwards, but it must be noted that what we are asking is (not) cast in stone. We hope government will not remain at the zero percent but we will not accept that."

James says his team remains optimistic that the government, the PWA demands.

The PWA is scheduled to also meet with its membership on September 6, 2019 to report on government's offer and decide on the way forward.

Meantime, the PWA says it remains "unhappy and dissatisfied" with the slow pace of the negotiations. President of the PWA Jefferson Drigo says the government is dragging its feet and "frustrating the process despite the amendment to the Police Insurance Act.

"We commend them for the amendment but since the passage of the Act in Parliament there are unnecessary and unreasonable delay and pussy-footing in moving from CLICO to the other insurance," Drigo said.

According to Drigo, the PWA brokers, CGM, who put together proposals for three insurance companies decided on an option and presented it to government more than a month ago.

"CLICO is frustrating the system and we are now not covered with insurance. This in not sitting well with members. We are in the hurricane season and are not insured, we need the government to move much faster with the medical insurance because we will be meeting the members on September 6, 2019 to discuss that and the salary issues," Drigo said.

Asked what the PWA is planning if its demands are not met, Drigo said he is not speculating. "I am not jumping the gun. When the time come we will deal with that but we are unhappy and want the government to just deal with the vexing issue of the medical insurance and salary issue," he said.

Meanwhile, Government negotiators have also presented the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) with the same counter offer- zero x 4, which it has rejected. The DPSU meets with negotiators during the week of 5th September 2019, General Secretary, Thomas Letang said.