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I will not tolerate ill discipline at the ports – PM

I will not tolerate ill discipline at the ports – PM

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Ill discipline at this country’s ports will not be tolerated; therefore, the security arrangements there will be restructured.{{more}}

Included in this restructuring will be the severing of the 84 persons who are employed as port police.

So said Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Air and Sea Port Development Dr Ralph Gonsalves, as he debated the Protection of Employment (Amendment) Bill of 2012 at a sitting of Parliament yesterday.

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

“One thing I am not taking is ill discipline at the port. Because if I tolerate ill discipline, the people who voted for me will say Ralph was a bad minister and allowed the port to be blacklisted. I will not allow that to happen,” the Prime Minister said.

During the debate, Gonsalves said that all the persons who are laid off will be paid in accordance with the Protection of Employment Act, and are welcome to apply to the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.

But he warned that he was not the one responsible for selecting new officers, as that was the job of the Commissioner of Police.

He said even though 84 port police are presently employed at the port, there would only be need for 55 police officers there, after the restructuring.

He, however, offered assistance in finding work for those who re-applied, but were not successful.

Gonsalves said during a recent trip abroad, he was informed that the port police had taken industrial action and a decision had been taken to send in members of the local constabulary as replacements.

“Interestingly, as soon as police turned up, man who had sick certificate turned up early to get back they work – from the moment police arrived early the morning, when people told them, they got well, which tells you something about what they were doing,” Gonsalves said.

He reiterated that workers need to be well disciplined.

Gonsalves explained that when industrial action is taken at an entity such as the port, it is left unsecured and this has the potential for the country to be blacklisted by the international authorities.

“I will not allow that to happen,” he said.

He explained that lack of adequate security could also have an adverse effect on cargo being landed here, as insurance for

ships could increase, resulting

in an increase in the price of goods being imported into the country.

The prime minister said he agreed with a statement made by the president of the Public Service Union, Cools Vanloo, that the port police should be paid like regular police.

However, for them to be paid like regular police, Gonsavles said they must have the entry qualifications and training, and put in the work hours and be subjected to the same discipline as regular police.

He said discussions are being held to hire 55 to 60 new police officers.

He, however, noted that of 37 police officers who had recently been recruited, 33 had five O’levels or more. Some had A’levels, others had Associate Degrees.

Four had fewer than five O’levels, he said, but they possessed skills that could be utilized in the police force. (DD)

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