The officers from the Prison and Fire Services staged their protest outside the offices of the Public Service Commission, in Port of Spain

Members of the Prison Service and Fire Service are calling on the President of Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excellency Paula Mae Weekes, to look into the Public Service Commission (PSC).

They say the Commission has not been dealing with issues affecting both Services.

President of the Prison Officers’ Association, Ceron Richards, says T&T is unsafe once members of the protective services are under the management of the PSC, as they are not fulfilling their mandate, and appear to operating contrary to the interests of the respective services and public officers working in them.

He cites several outstanding disciplinary matters that the PSC has not dealt with. He also reports that the Commission has begun prosecuting matters for which there were no investigations, referring specifically to the prison officers who have been accused of being involved in the 2015 jailbreak, and who have been on suspension for several years since.

“This Public Service Commission has far outlived its usefulness and relevance, and we need a solution going forward,” Ceron Richards states. “We need the Prime Minister, and most importantly, the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excellency Justice Paula Mae Weekes, to revisit this situation. It is not working. The way this Commission is operating now is unconstitutional.”

He added: “Just as the teaching service and the police have their own governing commissions, we are calling for a Prison Service Commission, and a Fire Service Commission, as one of the solutions going forward.”

The Prison and Fire Services officers are concerned the Public Service Commission is acting in a manner that is detrimental to the interests of public officers

And head of the Fire Officers Association, Leo Ramkissoon, is concerned that as first responders, they have not been provided with protective gear necessary to reduce their COVID-19 risk.

He said they wrote to the Chief Fire Officer about these issues but said there is no policy in place.

“We are on the verge of the introduction of a pandemic in this country and the fire officers are on the frontline,” he says. “We are the ones who have to go on board an aircraft when a response is needed. We are the ones who will have to go into vehicular accidents and extract people, without knowing who is infected from who is not.”

He added: “Every call we go on is an emergency medical call. Therefore, fire officers out to be outfitted with the proper gloves and the N95 face masks. We haven’t been outfitted with any of these.”

Leo Ramkissoon told Guardian Media fire officers refuse to give up and will continue discharging their duty, even though the Chief Fire Officer has refused to acknowledge their concerns.