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posted 30 Jul 2014, 20:56 by Gerry Kangalee
Outstanding Issues Affecting
Fire Service Second Division Officers

The following statement was issued by the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Officers Association Second Division (TTFSA2) in response to a request from the National Workers Union. The statement is published in the wake of the picket staged by Fire officers on Friday 25th July 2014. 

The TTFSA2 has represented fire officers since 1967 and has a membership of approximately 1,500. Their relationship to their employer is regulated by the Fire Service Act no. 31 of 1965 as subsequently amended. 

The Fire Service Association (Second Division) is saying that Fire Officers are being treated unjustly and in the interest of justice and fairness calls for an immediate investigation into the management of the Fire Service by the Chief Fire officer. We are being treated like the bastard child of the Ministry of National Security and are requesting the intervention of the Prime Minister, Minister of Public Administration, Minister of National Security and the Permanent Security Ministry of National Security to rescue us from the abysmal situation that now plague fire officers.

The administration of the Fire Service has reached an all- time low. Fire officers are totally neglected by the Fire Service administration, the Director of Personnel Administration, The Chief Personnel Officer and by extension the Government.

Everything is going wrong administratively in the Fire Service but fire officers continue to perform their duties without hesitation despite the poor treatment meted out by the administration. This can be evidenced by the following:

1. Health Welfare and Safety of Officers:

Recently officers had to dodge stones & gunshots whilst extinguishing a fire on the roadway in Laventille. We heard Inspector Mystar on TV speaking about this, however to date not one word from the Chief Fire Officer. The silence from the C.F.O is deafening on these high risk areas where personnel have to venture daily during the course of their duties. What is the protective protocol in the face of these major threats to Fire Officers?

Personnel at the Roxborough Fire Station have been subjected to unsafe conditions and placed at undue risk, as it relates to the continued occupation of that structure, contrary to the OSH Act 2004 (as amended 2006). Despite being informed of the dilapidated & unsafe conditions that exist there along with the recommendations from the Structural Engineer of the MOW&T, that the structure be demolished ASAP.

To date personnel attached there are scared and has demanded our intervention. To date these issues remain unresolved and we are in the first year of the Collective Bargaining period 2014 to 2016

2. Failure to Promote Fire Officers:

No promotion has been made by the Public Service Commission to the Rank of Fire Station Officer since 2005.

Fire Sub Station Officers qualified since 2003 for promotion to Fire Station Officer are yet to be promoted. Some of these officers are now appointed to act two (2) ranks above their substantive posts i.e. in the office of Assistant Divisional Fire Officer. Very often you hear of officers being promoted in the Police and Prison Service whereas no promotion in the Fire Service. This situation is negatively affecting the quality of supervision and discipline in the Fire Service. Also affected is our earning ability, standard of living and our ability to continue to provide the basic needs for our families. This results in very low morale and a feeling of discrimination in the Protective Services.

3. Nonpayment of outstanding Salary and Allowances for 2008 to 2010:

Many fire officers are still being paid at the 2007 remuneration level. Thousands of dollars are owed to fire officers due to the failure to fully implement the Collective Agreement for the period 2008 to 2010.

Salary increments outstanding for both serving and retired officers in contravention of regulation 31 (Terms and Conditions Regulations, 1998) resulting in most officers not being paid their correct salaries nor retirement benefits.

Acting allowances for appointed officers have not been paid since 2008 resulting in serving and retired officers being denied their property, thus affecting their standard of living.

Acting Fire Sub Officers and Acting Fire Sub Station Officers who are eligible for Qualifying Examination Allowance are not being paid this allowance in contravention of Cabinet Minute #791 of April 1970 and High Court judgment in action #1680 of 2003.

Qualifying Examination Allowance is not consolidated with the salaries of eligible officers upon retirement in contravention of Cabinet Minute #791 of April 1970 and High Court judgment, in action #1680 of 2003.

Pension and gratuity emoluments are not being paid in a timely manner to most eligible officers contrary to part v Payment of Pension, Regulation 43. of Fire Service Terms & Conditions of Employment Regulations 1998.

Officers injured during the course of duty are not being afforded timely medical treatment or reimbursed for medical expenses in contravention of Regulation 91 of the Protective Services Compensation Act No. 22 of 1996. (Basil Raphael, Navindra Jagdeo, Jason Forde, & Derryck Mitchell). In a job where fire officers are inherently exposed to numerous health risks, the level of medical treatment available is quite inadequate.