Turnquest: ‘Don’t want to open box’ of giving contract workers lump sum payments

In light of a revelation that over 300 police officers did not receive a $1,400 lump sum payment promised by government, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said that government does not want to “open that box” of extending the payment to public service workers on contract.

Police Staff Association (PSA) Chairman Sergeant Sonny Miller earlier revealed that the excluded officers are all on year-to-year contracts, which he said is protocol for officers from constable to sergeant who have reached 25 years of service and are considered to have “reached pension”.

He said that they are “still serving members” of the police force and that they feel “slighted” by the exclusion.

Turnquest last week said he believed “all police officers were paid” the $1,400 lump sum payment government pledged to give public sector workers, however, Miller refuted that.

“With information that has been brought to light by Mr. Miller, we’ll have a look at it and see…,” Turnquest said regarding the matter.

However, he also noted: “We ought to be careful that we don’t open that box, because once you open the box the people that are contract workers or year-to-year workers, then that becomes a huge [situation].

“We just want to make sure that we are consistent throughout the service with respect to who gets the grant.”

Minister of National Insurance Brensil Rolle has clarified that lump sum payments were to be paid to members of the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU); teachers; permanent employees who are paid weekly; members of the uniformed branches (police, customs, defense force, immigration, etc); and Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) staff, including doctors and nurses (does not include consultant doctors).

He also indicated who will not be paid: other government authorities and corporations; members of the judicial branch; contract workers hired outside the Public Service Commission; 52-week program employees; air traffic controllers; ministers and members of Parliament.

Calling the case of the police officers a “unique situation”, Turnquest said, “We’ll have to go back and look at it because [those officers] were not included in the original allocation.

“The original intent was permanent, pensionable, full-time employees.”

He added, “We have to get clarity from the minister that would have to decide.”

Miller previously said he had reached out to Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, as well as a government aide, for assistance with the concern.

He has suggested to an Our News reporter that the association might consider legal action should the matter not be resolved to its satisfaction.

Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said on Wednesday that he does not intend to get involved in the dispute, saying it is “a topic for another arena”.

“[This is] a question we’ll have to resolve,” Turnquest commented.

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