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Trinidad : Special Reserve Police officers refuse to sign contracts

By Exilus Deceyon

Port of Spain, 23 Dec. 05 [AlterPresse] --- Special Reserve Police officers yesterday refused to sign a retroactive contract presented to them by Commissioner of Police Trevor Paul.

The group of 450 officers met with senior officials at the old police headquarters, Port-of-Spain, where they were carded to sign the contracts.

Instead, they protested the seniors’ decision not to allow the SRPs’ representative, attorney Subhas Panday, to examine the contracts first.

In a phone interview yesterday, Panday accused the commissioner and the Government of trying to take advantage of the SRPs.

Panday said the senior officers were adamant that he would not be allowed to read the four-page document.

Instead, he said, a representative from the commissioner’s office told him to get the SRPs to sign the contracts and if they were not satisfied after that, to take the matter to court.

Panday, MP for Princes Town and brother of former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, said, “What I find disturbing was that it is three days to Christmas and we do not have these police officers on the road.”

Panday said the next move was to get copies of the contracts to each SRP and then sit down with them to assess the terms.

The CoP, he said, “could hide the contracts how long he wants, we will see it eventually.”
“They cannot afford not to have these policemen on duty,” Panday said.

“We will teach the Government how to treat crime by first teaching them how to treat their own police officers.”

Police Welfare Association president Cedric Neptune and treasurer Terrance Pierre were on hand during the protest.

Neptune later condemned the way the senior police went about trying to get the contracts signed.

“They just want to call the officers into a room and make them sign the contracts without getting to take it and review it first,” he said in a phone interview.

He said the concept of the contract for the officers, who were part of the 1,000 taken on during Howard Chin Lee’s stint as National Security Minister, was mentioned to the association, but the details were never disclosed.

He added that although the association represented the SRPs, they had no legal bargaining power to assist.

Yesterday’s attempted signing by the commissioner was a coerced effort, he said. [ed gp apr 23/12/2005 23:00]