This report by Russell Matthews outlines the issues regarding the need for members of the Bermuda Ex-Police Officers to be represented when the Bermuda Police Association is negotiating pay and other related matters which are likely to have an impact on our pensions and benefits.
In 2011 the Bermuda Police Association voted and accepted the ‘negotiated’ pay deal that was being offered by the Bermuda Government. That pay deal was overwhelmingly accepted by 277 members accepting the deal as compared to 10 voting not to accept. Of the 10 voting ‘No’, 8 were retirees.
The Bermuda Police Association Regulations 1968 only allows membership to the Police Association by serving Police Officers. Once Police officers retire their membership of the Police Association ceases, so how did some retirees have the ability to vote this time?
The Bermuda Police Association had taken the unprecedented step of reaching out to some retirees to give them the opportunity to be included in the vote. I am guessing that they realized that the offer made by the Bermuda Government’s negotiating team would financially affect many Officers who had retired between 2005 and 2010 and that they should have the ability to vote on this.
That offer included the matter of the ‘Comall’ portion of officers pay that had previously been deemed non-pensionable. Government’s ‘Take it or leave it’ offer stated that ‘Comall’ would be included in pensionable salary as of the 1st January 2010.
The history behind this offer dates back to 2005 when ‘Comall’ was first questioned and the Association asked that Government include that portion of an Officers pay in any calculation of pension payments. Despite a ruling by Justice Kawaley in favor of the Association in this regard Government did not agree to back-date this calculation to 2005 but to offer the January 2010 date.
Had they not accepted this deal, Government would have withdrawn the whole pay deal and the next step was for the Association to take Government to the Privy Council in the UK for a ruling on the ‘Comall’ issue - a costly undertaking.
Not surprisingly, the present Police Association members voted to accept the vote but in accepting this deal, they effectively froze out approximately 40 officers who retired between 2005 and 2010.
I was one of the officers who retired within the 2005/2010 period and I was not given the opportunity to vote in that pay deal.
I can understand why the present membership accepted the deal – especially when the Executive was recommending acceptance. However this situation brings to light an extremely interesting question in relation to retiree’s rights and interests. How can the Association represent my interests on matters of pension when I do not have the right to vote?
The fact that the Association allowed some retirees to vote in this last deal does not change the fact that the Association Regulations, as they stand, are antiquated and are in desperate need of change to allow a retiree the ability to sit on the Association Executive to represent the interests of all pensioners.
I would therefore suggest that the Bermuda Ex-Officers Association take an active part in making representation to the present Police Association Executive with a view to have the Association regulations changed to allow for that. If that does not happen, retirees in the future will be financially disadvantaged in the same manner as happened last year!
We are very grateful to Russell for bringing these issues to our attention.
I have discussed them briefly with Kevin Christopher, Chairman of the Police Association (BPA). Kevin advised that the BPA was aware of the negative impact that accepting Government’s pay offer would have on those officers who retired between 2005 and 2011, and for this reason the Association tried to contact as many of those members as possible and invited them to the meeting to decide whether or not to accept Government’s “Take it or Leave it” offer.
Kevin also agreed in principle that our Association should have an official representative on the BPA but this would require a change of legislation that will likely take some time.
In the meantime he agreed to invite a representative of our Association on an “ex-officio” basis to any meetings of the BPA when it is discussing issues that are likely to have an impact on retirees pensions/insurance benefits etc.
These issues will be further discussed at our AGM on 12th April.