FIRE officers are deeply furious with what Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Daryl Dindial offered last week and want the 2% offer reconsidered.
That’s according to Fire Service Association President Leo Ramkissoon, who said the 2% offer was simply shocking.
Ramkissoon, speaking on CCN TV6’s Morning Edition yesterday, said his members viewed the offer of 2% for eight years as a complete disrespect.
“Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s proposal is at worst irresponsible and an act of war. When you start at 2 p. 100 over an eight-year negotiation period is very close to zero. We wrote to the minister, before and during the pandemic to have discussions on how to find solutions to the ongoing negotiations, but to no avail,” Ramkissoon said.
He indicated that the association wanted 15% for the 2014-2016 bargaining period.
“It wasn’t an unreasonable offer. Firefighters have endured a lot over the years and most problems have gone uncorrected.”
Ramkissoon, warns the CPO to think twice before coming back to the table with another small proposal on June 13.
“What the firefighters tell me; they won’t back down. It makes no sense even considering two percent, so if you come next week and tell us four percent. We don’t even see that being the reality either… so might as well go back and come back with something, a reasonable discussion so that we can properly account for this time period,” he said.
Workers join the protest
He pointed out that the association will participate in the demonstration, next Friday, organized by the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW).
Ramkissoon also explained the lack of funding for equipment repairs and for fire engines, as well as respiratory equipment.
“Until now, if you visit a station, there is a serious shortage of breathing apparatus, and so far the problem has not been solved. So that means, I want you to understand that for firefighter breathing apparatus sets that’s what body armor is for the police officer in a shootout and it’s worse because we can’t escape the smoke and toxins that are contained so that firefighters face the likelihood of developing long-term illnesses,” he added.
At a press conference at Piarco International Airport on his return from Guyana on Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he had been briefed on the unions’ response (to shut down the country) and that he understood where it came from.
However, he wishes to clarify that the government tries to find a balance between what it is able to offer, as well as the sustainability and perseverance of employment.
“What this government has done since 2015 is to say very clearly that we are in favor of improving the conditions and the sustainability of jobs in the public service. Even during our most difficult times in recent years, have we tried to solve our difficulties by removing civil servants from their posts or by dismissing them? And this is our seventh year in government. We never adopted this policy once in an attempt to balance the budget,” Rowley said.
Rowley noted that the current civil service payroll is $8.7 billion.