2005-10-06 / Caribbean Corner

Caribbean Roundup

Police warn of industrial unrest on wage dispute

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Jam-aica police officers have warned of possible industrial unrest if a meeting with National Security Minister Dr. Peter Phillips yesterday failed to break the wage deadlock with the government.

They are also calling on the government to remove Junior Finance Minister Fitz Jackson from leading the negotiations.

Their position was outlined following a meeting on Monday of the Police Federation to discuss new strategies to deal with the wage issue.

“The breakdown that has occurred has actually occurred as a result of the junior minister backtracking on a previous commitment made by the government, a meeting at which Dr. Peter Phillips was present,” Federation Gen-eral Secretary Hartley Stewart said.

“We are hoping that he will take the opportunity to indicate what is the true position. If his position is the same as Fitz Jackson then we have a major problem and have nothing to tell our members to hold onto,” he added.

The police officers, who are seeking a 45 percent wage hike, have been locked in a prolonged wage dispute with the government.

The P.J..Patterson administration is adamant that it would not be able to grant the police officers increased sal-aries this year because of the public sector Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with trade unions last year.

Under the MOU, which expires next year, unions agreed to a wage freeze in exchange for saving approximately 15,000 jobs in the public service.

But the police said they did not sign the MOU and therefore should not be bound by its terms.

The police earlier this year went on a sickout to protest against the failure of government to settle their wage dispute.

President Jagdeo sends warning to Caricom

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) – President Bharrat Jagdeo said continued mistreatment of Guyanese nationals at some regional ports of entry has harmed efforts in Guyana to promote the Caribbean Community (Caricom) “as a united group with a common destiny.”

Jagdeo is frustrated that after years of talks with his Caricom counterparts on the issue, the situation worsened recently when Barbados refused a plane load of Guyanese entry into that island.

“We have been speaking for a very long time on this issue and frankly speaking, it makes it very hard for me to sell Caricom if my people are treated better in the United States than in some Caricom countries,” Jagdeo told Caricom officials when he made an impromptu visit to the new headquarters.

“These issues for too long have harmed us trying to sell this community as a united group with a common destiny,” Jagdeo said.

Jagdeo is worried that even with the advent of the critical Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME), Guy-anese travellers to Caricom countries continue to encounter difficulties.

He said he has Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, who has responsibility for such matters within the Caricom’s quasi Cabinet, to get a tabular form of deportation every six months for regional states to “erase false assurances” from some Caribbean leaders, who deny that their countries mistreat traveling Guyanese.

“It would also eliminate the excuse of ignorance of this situation as claim-ed by some Heads of Government,” Jagdeo said previously.

Jagdeo said Guyana would not tolerate its immigration officials mistreating Caricom nationals.

Opposition delegation returns from China visit

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (AP) – A Grenada opposition delegation has re-turned from a brief visit to China predicting improved co-operation between the two countries.

Opposition Member of Parliament, Peter David said the delegation met with several Chinese officials who ex-pressed interest in assisting Grenada, particularly in agriculture and fishing.

David, who was among the seven-member delegation, said that they would be requesting a meeting with the Keith Mitchell administration with the hope of outlining the areas Grenada could benefit.

“We’re requesting a meeting with the Government of Grenada to indicate what we believe are the areas of co-operation,” he said.

“We are an opposition party and therefore we can’t engage the government in signing any agreements. All we can do is to tell our government about areas that our people can benefit,” David said.

He said that whereas the government had engaged the Chinese in certain areas of co-operation, “we believe that there are other areas of co-operation that we can benefit, particularly the area of agriculture.”

The government declined to comment on the visit of the delegation, which was led by Opposition Leader Tilman Thomas.

But last year, the Mitchell administration switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China.

New commissioner for St. Vincent & Grenadines

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (AP) – From constable to commissioner in the space of ten years.

That is the amazing story surrounding the career of Keith Miller, the new Commissioner of Police in St Vincent who took up the post on Friday.

Miller, 46, was promoted from the rank of assistant superintendent to the post of St Vincent’s top cop, an amazing turn of events for a veteran officer who has been in the police service for the past 25 years.

Miller joined the St Vincent Police Force in 1979 and had to wait until 1996 to attain his first promotion to the rank of corporal.

He was promoted to sergeant in 1998, station-sergeant in 2001, inspector in 2004 and assistant superintendent earlier this year.

The new commissioner holds a law degree the university of Wolverhamp-ton in England and a Certificate in paralegal studies from the Barbados Community College.

The St Vincent Police Force is currently going through a major restructuring process following a study un-dertaken by attorney-at-law and former Barbados Police Commissioner Orville Durant.

Britain to fund ACS project aimed at developing tourism

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – Britain is to fund a project aimed at developing the sustainable tourism zone of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).

It is providing 40,000 pounds sterling to fund the project for “Developing and Implementing the Sustainability Indicators for the Greater Caribbean.”

The project aims to identify and assess five pilot destinations in the ACS membership, which will form the basis for the development of the Sustainable Tourism Zone of the Greater Caribbean, an ACS statement said.

“Each destination will be evaluated, recommendations will be made with respect to existing gaps, and a plan provided for the introduction of the measures necessary to address those gaps,” it added.

The ACS said market research would also be carried out in Britain and Europe to identify recognized certification schemes, to analyze the value placed on them and to determine how these may be adapted for the greater Caribbean region.

The results of the pilot cases will serve to inform future initiatives to-wards establishing the Sustainable Tour-ism Zone and to motivate countries that have already committed destinations for this designation, the ACS added.

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