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.