Fellow Colleagues as we come to the end of yet another year, let us all give the Almighty thanks and praises for seeing us through another year. Lots of people were not that fortunate including colleagues and family members of ours but yet we give him thanks.
2017 has been a very challenging year for the executive and general membership of the Police Welfare Association. These challenges began very early in the year simply because some members were of the view that the status quo should remain the same and campaigned bitterly against me and other potential candidates for the pwa elections .
After making my intentions known that I would be running for the chairmanship of the pwa once again, this created bitterness among senior members of the executive as it seeped through their veins like an infectious disease which further spread through the top rank of the police force. Some senior members forgot what their roles and responsibilities were. In fact, totally ignoring the laws that governs the PWA which clearly state that it’s members should be from the rank of constable to inspector. As we approach this New Year we must not forget what transpired during the year in review.
At the first meeting which was called to elect the Chairman and the new executive of the various branch boards, one would recall the surprise visit of a very senior officer at this meeting. This unprecedented visit was due to an invitation extended by the outgoing chairman without the knowledge of the other executive members to impress upon the general membership the importance of paying their dues. However it is my firm belief that this visit was to influence the electoral process but clearly this didn’t work.
Following this the new executive held a two – day retreat at the signature restaurant and bar conference room and members were allowed on the second day to wear a police welfare T-shirt of their choice. A significant number of members ironically wore their yellow T-shirt with the police crest and the name of the police welfare association clearly written on them.
Soon thereafter the executive members were summoned to the office of the cop and was treated with hostility. We were asked what image we wanted to portray by wearing this colour T-shirt. Is this where our Organization has reached? That we are so embedded in political divisiveness that colour now matters on an ordinary day.
We were even told by the Deputy Commissioner of Police that the laws didn’t make provision for the Welfare to have an office. He was in sighting that the welfare office should be taken away. He then suggested that the annual awards and retirement ceremony should no longer be under the control of the pwa as well as the NCO’s Conference.
These clearly were attacks on the new executive. With the support from our general membership the executive stood resolute and held its ground. We must never allow the hierarchy of the force to select our executive for us. The pwa in carrying out its mandate to look out for its members need, continue to reach out to the top brass of the organization with little or no avail.
In fact we wrote our leaders on a number of issues which were pertinent to our members these include the insurance of police officers traveling in police vehicles, pension reform, the living and working conditions, security of stations, coverage of Coast Guard officers on seas and the leave System among others.
All these seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Some officers especially at the out stations are working 144 hours per week totally in contravention of the Geneva Convention of 40 hours per week in which our country is a signatory. These hard draconian leave systems have certainly made no provision for families to spend time together and have often time caused disfunction in police family life.
As we approach the end of the year and shortly we will be having our own internal election we must not forget the issues concerning Pc’s Martin, Roberts and myself fighting for your rights.
We must never be as selfish as the snitch in the executive who for personal gains leak the private conversation causing major havoc in the Organisation and created attention locally and regionally while we were discussing your concerns.
Just when we thought that our challenges were over for 2017, the leadership of the welfare was once again attacked. On Thursday 21st December, 2017 the new finance minister Hon. Camillo Gonsalves called a meeting with all the unions which included the Police welfare association.
A team of members lead by the Chairman represented the association. While this meeting was in session it was joined by the prime minister. The Prime Minister made comments on a few of the topics and soon thereafter launched an attack on the chairman.
He stated that the chairman was entirely rude and out of order to talk about storming the office of the prime minister and further boasted that his security detail would deal with anyone police or otherwise that want to storm the office of the Prime Minister.
This we all know was taken out of context for political expediency. Despite the many challenges the police welfare association is facing, we stand resolute and determined to fight for your rights.
We must never allow the powers that be to take us down the wrong path. We are true champions in our own rights and must continue to support each other so that our lives and working conditions can be improved. May God continue to guide and protect us all. Happy new year to all members and your families.