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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

Industrial Rights for Police Officers – article from PFEW Police Magazine

2 January 2024

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), recognising that the current system for determining police officer pay and conditions is not fit for purpose, will add a notable chapter to the UK’s policing history in 2024 as it ballots its membership on pursuing industrial rights.  

The PFEW’s National Board and National Council decided to seek the view of all members following growing concerns about the erosion of police pay and working conditions, and of the inability of the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) to act independently. 

The is because it is the Home Office that determines the membership of the PRRB, while the Prime Minister appoints its Chair, and the Home Secretary sets the PRRB’s parameters.  

All contributors, including police staff associations, can provide evidence, but have no right to negotiate. The PRRB’s recommendations are not binding on the Government, which has departed from them on a number of occasions, and there is no express right of reply to the Government’s decisions.  

The PFEW considers this to be unfair, particularly given the restrictions on the lives of police officers generally and their inability to exercise industrial rights, an entitlement available to many other groups of public sector workers.  

PFEW’s Deputy National Secretary, Gemma Fox, said: “It comes down to the degradation in police pay over many years now, and the need to establish a police pay mechanism that is truly impartial and independent, and recognises the unique position of police officers in society. 

“It is important we scope our membership on what they feel police pay should look like in the future. We are keen to take our membership’s mandate on whether they would like to see collective bargaining with binding arbitration brought back on the table, and if achieved, should wider industrial rights be pursued as the organisation’s policy position.” 

The PFEW’s National Board and National Council have decided that seeking industrial rights for police officers will be a two-stage process. First, the views of members will be sought on whether they want the organisation to pursue collective bargaining rights along with binding arbitration.  

Once achieved, or when all avenues seeking to achieve it have been exhausted, PFEW will return to the entire membership to find out if there is a desire to pursue further industrial rights, for example, the right to take industrial action.  

Elaborating on the decision, Deputy National Chair Tiff Lynch said: “It is not going to be a quick fix salutation. It dates back to 1919 and it has never been a smooth process as there are legal parameters to be considered. However, it must be done as our members have had enough they feel like they have been held to ransom and have to do more for less.” 

“The uncertainty instilled by the current mechanism and the anxiety officers face because of it is very real. For instance, this year we were awarded a 7 per cent rise and we have absolutely no clue what we will get next year.” 

“All we want is fair pay and a fair seat at the table to effectively negotiate terms and conditions.” 

The PFEW’s National Board and National Council are aware that it is going to be an incredibly important vote and the decision about what PFEW will do will be made through a simple majority vote.  

The situation of police officers in England and Wales is similar to counterparts in the majority of European countries where they also do not have full industrial right. 

Police pay is currently an outlier amongst the remuneration of all other protective service workers, while independent research conducted by non-partisan think tank, the Social Market Foundation has suggested that police officer pay is negatively impacted due to officers’ inability to strike or have access to other forms of industrial rights. 

For many years, PFEW has been calling on the Government to recognise the restrictions and limitations put on police officers, the risks they face on a day-to-day basis, and to fairly compensate them for it. The Government has failed to do so and until there is a pay review process that enables the views of police officers to be properly heard, PFEW does not believe that this situation will change. 

See the original article in Police Magazine here