Who would have thought that just a mere eight months after a general election in which the NNP won all fifteen seats we workers would be taking industrial action?
After all it seemed just before the election that everything was good. Who can remember the speech at Pearls in which we were told that oil money will flow, and we could not trust Nazim Burke with the money?
Today we are being told that for six years straight we have had positive growth, and yet government cannot honour their obligations to the workers of the nation. Why are we in this mess? We are here in part because of the mismanagement of the country by politicians. Frankly, Dr. Mitchell is the main culprit.
If there is one person who had the opportunity to change the political, economic, social and physical landscape of this country it is Dr. Mitchell. Now in his fifth term as Prime Minister, Dr. Mitchell has failed Grenada miserably. He is now coming to the end of his political life, what have we got to show for it?
What can Dr. Mitchell boast about? The ministerial complex and the stadium I guess. What sustainable project has Dr. Mitchell brought to the country after all these years in Parliament? Is strange that he is now trying to get some five star hotels on stream before he departs the scene?
Dr. Mitchell has squandered the opportunity to raise the living standard of the Grenadian people. Wanton mismanagement and corruption have crippled us. We must not forget the millions that were lost to crooks and conmen. We must not forget the call centre fiasco where millions were given to one of Dr. Mitchell’s family with the promise that it would be paid back, and today it is yet to be paid.
What economic sense it made to pay Dr. Lawrence Joseph in excess of $15,000.00 as advisor to parliament when we have a Governor General at a time when we were in a structural adjustment program? We are reaping what we have sown. And now, teachers and public servants and prison officers and police officers must struggle for what is theirs. But let me zero in on the police officers.
In the last two decades or so, the RGPF has been run as an arm of the NNP. Police officers have been fed crumbs while Dr. Mitchell and his boys feast on bread and wine.
The RGPF has been viewed as a stronghold of the NNP, and so officers accept whatever is thrown at them. Officers live and work under deplorable conditions. They do their job with little or no resources.
Dr. Mitchell held the responsibility for ICT in the region for years today, our police stations are still not computerised. Officers still pay for cable and internet from their pockets. The officers of the RGPF are still the lowest paid in the region.
However, the boast is made that we are the safest country in the CARICOM. Officers work hard to keep Grenada safe, and yet they are treated so shabbily by the authorities. Politics, poor working conditions, lack of resources, low salary and senior officers who are loyal to Dr. Mitchell have destroyed the morale of the force.
I have seen officers denied promotion because they were perceived sympathisers of the NDC. I have seen officers transferred because they did not support NNP. There are certain departments and branches that are too prestigious for officers who support NDC to head.
I have watched as officers who support NNP are placed in positions even if their incompetence is glaring. All these have been done to control the mindset of officers and to maintain a political stronghold on the RGPF.
The head of the Welfare Association has been literally chastised for putting up resistance to offers made by government.
Just before the last election, the then Ag Commissioner, Winston James literally demanded that junior officers accept what the gazetted officers accepted. To make sure that they did, he sat at the negotiating table himself.
It was clear that we could not allow for the Prime Minister to go into an election with unsolved matters hanging over his head. So, junior officers were cajoled into accepting the offer.
The RGPF has been prostituted, raped and left severely wounded. Officers are crying for something more, but who is listening?
I have seen many officers retire only to take up jobs as security officers. Some, after serving thirty plus years are living like beggars. They have retired into poverty. One man could have made the difference. After all, he has held the portfolio of Minister for National Security for many years.
So, will officers ever rest and reflect on gratuity? Are officers faced with the same struggle as the wider public service? Does the issue of gratuity matter? This is the time for officers to rally and demand that the government come better than they are offering? But with a force so badly polarised I doubt that will ever happen. So while they work, public servants are resting and reflecting.
This is the time to remind Dr. Mitchell of his attitude in the time of Blaize in the 80s. This is the time to remind him that from 2008-2013 the world was severely struck by a recession and that the problem was not mismanagement as he alluded.
Remind him when he marched demanding lower food prices, lower fuel prices, better health care, and much more. Police officers must never continue to blindly be loyal to politicians while their bread and butter issues are not being addressed. Stop waiting for the crumbs and demand some loaves.
Will the men and women in uniform rest and reflect too?