(Trinidad Express) Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Friday laid down the law to police officers who are threatening to stay away from work tomorrow to “rest and relax.”
Persad-Bissessar was reacting to the plan by police officers to “rest and reflect” on Monday, to demonstrate their disgust with the Chief Personnel Officer’s (CPO) offer of a five per cent increase in salaries.
The PM on Friday went on a walkabout on Frederick Street in Port of Spain with National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy, Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and a group of other Govern-ment officials.
She hugged, greeted and shook hands with people as she walked along the western pavement of Frederick Street, and smiled and posed for photos with some.
After Persad-Bissessar ended her walk along Frederick Street, she stood on a bench near the statue of Captain Arthur Andrew Cipriani on the Brian Lara Promenade and addressed the media. Persad-Bissessar said she has a “high regard and appreciation for the dedicated police officers and the work they carry out every day in difficult circumstances,” adding that the offer made by the CPO in the labour negotiations “is not a total measure of the value placed on the work of the courageous and self-sacrificing policemen.”
She then warned all officers who plan to stay away from work on Monday: “The Government has not taken lightly the threat that some members of the Police Service may fail to carry out their duties to protect the lives of innocent men, women and children.
“We will not stand idly by and witness this wanton act of abandonment and dereliction of duty take place without an appropriate measured response.” She said all resources belonging to the Ministry of National Security will be employed to ensure the safety of citizens if officers make good on their threat to stay off the job tomorrow.
“I want to assure you the Ministry of National Security has taken every measure to deal with any eventuality in the protection of the citizens of this nation. We are all in this together,” she said.
“I say, further, that the deployment of all necessary resources available to the State stands ready, willing and able to be deployed in ensuring that the nation is not held to ransom,” Persad-Bissessar said. She slammed the “irresponsible” officers who would stay away from work tomorrow and praised the “patriots” who would take up duty. “This is a time in my respective view for reasonableness and not irresponsibility. But if the voice of reason fails to be heard by some and threats of irresponsibility are carried out, we will meet it with all the resolve in the world, in defence and interest of the very people—those who advocate and perpetrate these acts—they proclaim to represent,” she said.
“I am proud of those who have come forward as true patriots in defence of our nation. Those who understand that there is no divide in a situation where the country loses, and so, today, I say, let the country know the Government is on everyone’s side. We are open to continuing dialogue, but we close ranks and protect the interests of Trinidad and Tobago whenever it becomes necessary so to do,” she said.
Sandy and Gibbs both expressed confidence that officers would report to work tomorrow. The Express has been reliably informed that commercial banks in the country are taking precautionary measures to protect their properties from persons who might take advantage of the proposed police action.
Deputy Mayor of Port of Spain Keron Valentine and president of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) Gregory Aboud were also present at the walkabout on Friday.