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Port police not confident of being re-employed in regular police force

Port police not confident of being re-employed in regular police force

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Port Police Officers say that they have no confidence that any of them will be rehired, as was indicated by Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves.{{more}}

This view was expressed by some of the port police officers present at a meeting with Commissioner of Police Keith Miller and other top ranking police officers yesterday, at the Old Montrose Police Station.

According to sources, yesterday’s meeting was held to brief the port police officers on the procedure to apply for entry into the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF).

But many were of the opinion that they will not be selected, even if they apply.

“We aren’t confident because they said that they will be taking applicants from 18 to 30 [years old],” one port officer, who wished not to be identified, told SEARCHLIGHT.

“If they say we ill-disciplined, you expect they will take ill-disciplined people in the police force?” she continued.

“It was the Prime Minister who said that, so if we are ill-disciplined they wouldn’t take us,” the port police officer, with nine years experience, said.

Kendra Lavia, a port police officer since November 2011, said that she has a mortgage to pay and children at school.

“This is bare frustration – bare frustration,” Lavia said.

Another officer, however, said that the majority of officers hoped that they would be re-employed as port police officers.

Bishen John, manager of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority told SEARCHLIGHT in an interview on June 13, that the ports around the country could be under the control of the RSVGPF from as early as August this year. However, those present at yesterday’s meeting said that they were told that this transition would take place on August 1.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced in Parliament in May that there was going to be

some restructuring in the security arrangements at the port.

Gonsalves said then that ill-discipline was not going to be tolerated.

“…There will be restructuring at the port. No if, maybe, or but,” he said.

The Prime Minister said included in the restructuring process was the laying off of 84 persons who are currently employed as port police.

He said that those being laid off will be paid in accordance with the Protection of Employment Act and that they were also welcome to apply to the RSVGPF.

Gonsalves warned, however, that he was not the one responsible for selecting the new officers and that would be done by the Commissioner of Police.

He added that only 55 port officers would be required after the restructuring was done.

According to the Prime Minister, while he was on a trip abroad, he had been informed that the officers at the port had taken industrial action, and members of the local constabulary had been sent in as replacements.

He said when industrial action was taken at an entity such as a port, it was left unsecured and had the potential of having the country blacklisted by

international maritime authorities.

Gonsalves said then that he agreed with a statement made by the president of the Public Service Union (PSU), Cools Vanloo, that the port police should be paid like regular police.

But Gonsalves said that in order for them to be paid like regular officers, they needed to first have the entry qualifications and training, and be put to work the same hours and be subjected to the same discipline as regular police. (DD)

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