If the salary cap fits, police should wear it

Anyone getting a pay rise this year?  Does anyone know anyone – in any sector – getting a pay rise this year?  Nope, me neither.

Actually, that’s not quite true:  there might be a salary cap for the rest of us, but the polis will not be wearing it.

The situation has arisen because the police are supposedly locked in to a three year pay deal that begun in 2008 and runs through to 2011.  Moreover, the salary year for police runs from September to August, not each financial year as happens  – mainly- for the rest of us.

Even though calls were being made for pay freezes and restraint in the public sector from early summer 2010, the police have managed to hold on to their pay award due from September 2010 of 2.55%.  It’s sneaky on a number of fronts.

First, there is provision in the settlement for a mechanism to re-open negotiations if either side (the Government or the staff) of the Police Negotiating Board “produces new evidence of a substantial and material change in wider economic and labour market conditions and a significant material change to police officer recruitment and retention over the previous twelve month period”.   It would seem that the mechanism was included to anticipate boom conditions whereby the negotiated pay increase meant that police officers were missing out or had a problem retaining or recruiting officers – hence the additional measure that allows the staff side to take a refusal by the official side to renegotiate, to arbitration. 

But it does not appear to preclude the official side ie the UK Government, along with Scottish and Welsh Ministers, doing so, say, if budgets were being cut and there was a need for pay restraint.  It would not appear that any of the Governments opted to do so, which is peculiar given that by anyone’s yardstick, 2009 and indeed 2010, saw a “substantial and material change in wider economic… conditions”. 

Second, the need to honour the pay increase has added pressure to police budgets.  This is what Northern Constabulary said in its budget paper: “In line with Police Staff a pay freeze has been applied to Police Officers but we are committed to pay the residual element of the 2.55% pay award of 1 September 2010.” 

Fife Constabulary is one of the most transparent.  Its proposals for the 2011-12 police budget acknowledge “increasing cost bases”, including “extant national agreements on pay, terms and conditions associated with Police Officers and Police Staff. These elements are outwith the control of the Force or Police Authority and equate to £2.157m of growth.”  What this means is that Fife police had to increase its base budget requirements by this sum and then find ways of cutting provision in order to make the budget fit with the money available.  One of the solutions agreed was to cut the number of civilian posts by 42.

Stay with me here….

Effectively, Fife police – and every other police force in the country – has had to find the wherewithal to meet the higher salaries of police officers by amongst other things, making civilian staff redundant.  Northern Constabulary is doing likewise, with 30 police staff posts going.  Which is outrageous.  The increase is not anything like what is required to keep pace with inflation but given that every other public sector, and indeed, voluntary sector worker in the land is going without any pay rise this year, it really does stick in the craw. 

The rest of us are suffering and having to make less go further in the coming year, why not them?

Moreover, the burd recalls the Police Federation and various high ranking officers warning throughout last autumn of the dire consequences of cutting police budgets.  Worse, the headlines warning of “murder and mayhem” appear to have been generated as a result of an orchestrated campaign by the Federation, who brought in media advisors to help them. 

But I don’t remember a peep from any of them suggesting that officers do without the residual five months’ pay rise in order to ease the need for and impact of any cuts.  Oh, and keep their valued and trusted civilian colleagues in a job. 

Semper vigilio?  Especially when it relates to themselves.

 

13 thoughts on “If the salary cap fits, police should wear it

  1. I understand your point, but I don’t think your language is helpful as it contributes to a Tory divide and conquer approach. Any pay rise below inflation is a real terms pay cut, so teachers are not getting “a little bit extra”, they are getting a little bit less. You’d prefer their pay cut to be bigger, fair enough but don’t pretend all that is required is for them to do without a nice wee windfall.

    If you want to talk about what’s really possible, you’ve posted previously about waste in local government, has that been tackled, was the education budget set in tablets of stone from on high, or could the money have been found for a bigger budget?

    Politicians set the budgets, they choose not to raise taxes, and as employers they signed 3 year pay deals. They have to carry the can on this one, not teachers or police.

    Unions by and large are playing the game, many have stated publicly that they accept the need for cuts, and are entering into pay negotiations fully aware that there will be a pay freeze. Allowing politicians to unpick agreements with unions would be a damaging precedent to set at a time when there needs to be openness, honesty and trust between employers and staff as we try to navigate through the tough times ahead.

  2. Way to go playing the game by the Tory rules, they must love posts like this. Blame the teachers for the loss of classroom assistants if you want, I reckon the massive spend on war, weapons, the tax evaded by super rich individuals and companies and the enormous salaries and bonuses paid to bankers are all better places to point the finger.

    Solidarity?

    • I don’t think I am playing the game by Tory rules. The EIS are already flexing their muscle over pay restraint, and it won’t be long until they start bleating about extra stress on teachers due to the lack of classroom assistants and all the cuts to additional support that have been put through by councils because they have been saddled with meeting this pay increase. So that teachers, who are already well paid, can get a little bit extra some of our most vulnerable children will suffer. Where is their solidarity and sense of community values?

      If we were in control of all the things you mention then yes they should be cut in order for everyone to have a pay increase and keep services well funded and supported but we aren’t. So we have to work within the envelope we have.

  3. so you assume the EIS werent asked to forego their rise to allow the money saved to protect investment in education – and that they simply refused? You think the other unions haven’t been given options to protect jobs on the basis that increased wage demands will lead to job losses?

    sometimes negotiation is best carried outwith of the public sphere but maybe you should look a bit behind the scenes first.

    • I’m not assuming that at all. If the EIS refused to consider it, then the politicians concerned should have made more noise about it.

      Quiet negotiations with backroom deals got you what exactly? And sadly it’s decent councillors like yourself who will be blamed by residents – as was happening in Renfrewshire – for this situation.

      The SNP of all parties should be prepared to take the vested interests in the public sector on – publicly and noisily. There would be no shortage of folk prepared to back you for it.

  4. so all politicians should block multi year deals? the other trade unions in local government didnt want the same deal – should they have been forced to accept what teachers got?

    • No, not in normal times – they are a good thing. But these are not normal times. I don’t understand the mentality of unions and individuals who can sit there and bask in the knowledge of receipt of a pay rise when colleagues are losing their jobs, and other bits of the service are having to go in order to pay that. These are not public sector values frankly….

      It would have been controversial sure and amounted in effect to a pay cut but I know lots who have taken pay freezes, pay cuts, reduced hours, time off without pay etc etc in order to keep businesses open and as many folk in jobs as possible. THAT’s solidarity!

      Politicians at the very least could have, should have made some noise about it and put pressure on these unions and industry bodies to explain why their members deserve to keep a pay rise while others are losing their jobs.

  5. council chief officers were in a multi year deal but in some areas they accepted whatever was offered to non teaching staff (ie nothing); while I believe teachers got their rise also this year.

  6. I think Local Government Chief Officers received a 2.5% pay increase for 10/11 as that was part of a 3 year deal, simialr to the Police’s. I understand that they were asked if they would forego the rise (Chief Officers at local government level have salaries starting at £80k and cover Chief exec’s paid, for example in excess of £140k).

    They said no.

    Now, I think a pay rise for those at the lower end of the scale (whether they work in local government [like me] or in the Police or NHS) is important in these tough times. But many people who are only higher salaries should be expected to forego any increase – and possibly get a slight pay cut.

    • John, I agree that a pay rise is desirable for those at the lower end – and they are getting that under the new terms of the Concordat. But no police officer would qualify as they don’t earn under £21k.

      I think the point is less about who deserves a pay rise and more that police officers – and their representative bodies – quite happy to take this, keep schtum about it and allow cuts go through elsewhere especially cuts that result in other colleagues losing their jobs. Where I work, people are working together to try and find ways of saving money that enable us to keep as many folk in jobs as possible, on the basis that a little bit – or even a big bit – of pain shared is fair to keep as many folk working as possible.

      Shame the police don’t seem to think like that and it makes you question the supposed values and ethos of the public sector.

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