Haiti: Policeman explains reasons behind threat to strike on 16 August

BBC Monitoring Service – United Kingdom; Aug 07, 2004

broadcast by Haitian Signal FM radio on 6 August

Members of the Haitian National Police have threatened to stop working on August 16.. According to the policemen, they will stop working in order to get more social advantages, including a pay increase and better working conditions. They plan to extend the movement. They are now making preparations in the event that the PNH officials do not pay attention to their demands.

Q and A with policeman:

Q. What is your motivation? Is it because your working conditions are poor? Is it because of money? Did they promise you anything they have not actually given to you?

A. If it were a question of promises or money, the police would have stopped working about five or six years ago. Do you understand? We need better working conditions. If you look closely, you will see that so far many people have weapons, heavy weapons in their hands. This means that you need equipment to work.

If it were a question of money, I would not work at all. Can you imagine that we are not paid well enough to find money to pay for a taxi to go to work? We would have stopped already. It is not about money. It is not really about money. The fundamental objective of the strike is that – I have been a policeman since 1995. I have known Fritz Magny, leader of SOS Police-SOS Democracy, a police union, since 1995, since he came to Haiti.

Well, we agreed to do a certain number of things. We agreed to work because we swore to serve the country. But if we believed what they told us at the Police Academy and what we observed in the streets, we would have stopped working on the first day we left the academy for our assigned police stations, because they do not keep their word, because they do not mean anything they say.

I am going to raise a very important issue. You may see ten policemen in only one car, whereas a police official may have three police vehicles at his home, with the understanding that his wife is driving one of them and his younger brother is driving another one. Yet you should not have more than four policemen in a vehicle.

This is the first point. We have been suffering because of that for a long time. But today, we have decided to stop. The foreigners told us that we could observe a strike.

The only thing is that I am taking this opportunity to tell the other policemen who listen to Radio Mega Star: You cannot refrain from going to the police stations; you may stay inside the police stations and not go out into the streets. But you cannot refrain from going to the police station, because the foreigners told us that. They told us so when they were training us. We are supposed to remain inside the police stations but we shall not go out.

Q. I have heard some policemen on other radio stations who say they will remain outside. So, according to that principle, they may go on strike but –

A. Inside the police station. They are not supposed to refrain from coming in.