The Bermuda Police Association (BPA) will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss their options moving forward, in light of the current “impasse” in wage negotiations with government.
Sergeant Andrew Harewood, BPA Chairman confirmed today (August 21) that the meeting will be held at 2pm at the Police Recreation Club (PRC) in Prospect.
The BPA Chairman has already stated that there are at least four outstanding issues on the table, now that a partial agreement has been reached that has yet to be signed by the Government.
Those issues include contributions to the Government Employee Health Insurance (GEHI) and legal coverage for police.
The BPA Chairman also stated that police officers in firearms, explosives and diving teams accept the risk of injury voluntarily, which puts them at risk.
“Police officers are now forced to really question whether or not they will continue, or want to continue, providing this service voluntarily and how it would affect the officers personally.
“The question is, would I want to increase the risk to myself?
“Officers are seriously considering reducing the financial liability to them by not performing these functions,” he added.
In a statement released last week the BPA said the current “impasse” was a direct result of the Government’s refusal to sign the partial agreement.
“It was agreed that these matters would be resolved after signing of the partial agreement,” he said.
The BPA maintains that the partial agreement was legally binding and that it was “bad faith” that the Government had refused to accept it.
“We have been negotiating in good faith with the independent PSNT, on behalf of the Government for the past eighteen (18) months,” said Sgt Harewood.
“Both teams have worked extremely hard, reaching a partial agreement on May 9, 2019.
“Despite official documentation from the Government stating that the PSNT had at the least, ostensible authority and at the most actual authority to negotiate and agree on items on behalf of Government, the Government is now refusing to honour the partial agreement.
“The refusal by Government to honour this partial agreement is a clear act of negotiating in bad faith and is unlawful under section 29 (a) (4) of the Police Act, 1974,” he said.
“The reality of the situation is that the members of the BPA are now becoming exasperated, with the real possibility of becoming demoralized.
“The members of the BPA are calling on the Honourable Premier of Bermuda to take control of this situation and ensure that the Government honour its obligations. We are eager to continue to negotiate in good faith.”
“We are aware that the Government has recently entered into partial agreements with other unions.
“We strongly question whether the Government’s unlawful actions are as a result of the events of the December 2nd, ,2016.
“We are concerned that negotiations may break down due to the Government’s ill feelings towards the Bermuda Police Service following these events.”
Sgt Harewood concluded: “We invite the Government to reveal their true motive for not wanting to sign the partial agreement.”
It should also be noted that to date, on the Minister of National Security Minister, Wayne Caines is the only Government Minister to issue a statement in response to the BPA.
“All outstanding contractual matters, including salary and contractual negotiations, fall outside of my remit and come under the minister with responsibility for labour.,” he said.
“Outstanding matters are with the Public Sector Negotiating Team and are still being negotiated.”
Neither the Premier, David Burt, or Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, has said anything on the reasons for the partial agreement not being signed.
As indicated by the BPA, if talks break down, the negotiations could be referred to the Department of Workforce Development for “settlement by conciliation”.
According to Sgt Harewood: “That process takes 14 days. If not, then the matter goes to arbitration.”
The emergency general meeting tomorrow has been called to “discuss negotiations and the impasse” and to consider how to proceed going forward.