The Gonzi government has announced a one-time cash payment to the Police Force. The Malta Police Association, though not yet recognised by the government, has obviously welcomed this incentive. However, though this might be another election time concession by the government, the issue regarding a court case instituted by the Malta Association of Retired Police Officers remains unsolved.
The increase announced by the Prime Minister on Wednesday includes a one-time compensation of between € 1000 and € 1900 payable in two instalments. Coincidentally, these instalments will be paid in October and February next year. Obviously these well-timed payments are spaced to be close to a general election, whatever the eventuality.
An allowance for members of the Police force is being included for the first time. This allowance will be paid according to the different grades in the force and varies between € 300 and € 1,300 per annum. The government will also be paying a shift allowance.
Many members of the Police force have not been fooled by this belated revision of salaries. This issue has been pending for years and it is obvious that this timely concession is another exercise at vote catching by GonziPN. Regarding the court case involving claims for around € 100 million, past and present members have noted that Dr. Gonzi made no mention of any change in his government’s stand. There are 842 retired policemen who have claims for overtime and allowances. A vast majority of these will not benefit from the Government’s concession and even those who have claims pending, know that they would have been better off had Government entertained their claims. Some current police officers have also remarked that the one-time hand-out of around € 2 million and the € 1.5 million recurrent annual cost of this increase, if far lower than what, they believe, they are owed by the government.
Another issue, which has been a sore point, is the discussion regarding pensions to members of the Police force. Lawrence Gonzi made no mention of this problem and since the government has not given formal recognition to the Police Association, there is little room for discussion.
These increases, especially at this time so close to an election, can open a Pandora’s box for the government. A number of other government bodies are already claiming their share. The Armed Forces and the Civil Service, for instance, will surely try to jump on the bandwagon. They have had claims pending for years and now they smell blood. The whole country can see Gonzi’s state of panic and they feel that it is the right time to pressure the government with their demands, knowing full well that GonziPN will do anything to cling to power.