The GMB Trade Union is set to ballot members employed as civilian staff in England and Wales for industrial action in a dispute over a pay offer of just 1%. Both Unison and Unite will also ballot their members on possible industrial action.
The GMB states that: “The 1% offer from the Police Staff Council is viewed as not only derisory but insulting, particularly as support staff roles are being replaced by officers.”
Staff to be balloted include Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), 999 call takers and dispatchers, fingerprint experts, criminal justice unit clerks, custody and detention officers and a wide range of operational and organisational support roles that keep police services running on a daily basis.
The GMB submitted a claim for a 3% pay increase or £500, whichever is greater, as well as a 3% increase on standby allowance. This follows a pay freeze in 2011 and 2012 and a 1% increase last year. In an informal ballot conducted during the summer, affected GMB members overwhelmingly rejected the 1% offer and indicated that they were prepared to take industrial action.
Following the consultation, the employers refused to re-open negotiations with the unions.
Job losses in police services
Commenting on this issue, Sharon Holder – the GMB’s National Officer – explained: “Following years of below-inflation pay cuts, GMB police staff have just about had enough. Jobs for elite boys and girls in blue, who can no longer work on the front line, mask the actual figure of job losses in police services.”
Holder continued: “The Police Staff Council is urged to get back around the table, engage in meaningful negotiation with support staff representatives and seriously re-consider the offer of 1% before police forces are subject to industrial action before Christmas.”
UNISON’s General Secretary Dave Prentis added: “UNISON police staff members are angry after a two-year pay freeze followed by a miserly 1% increase last year. We’re urging the employers to come back to the table and negotiate a fair pay deal.”
Prentis also stated: “As the Government’s savage cuts to policing continue to bite, police staff are being asked to do more and more as their colleagues are made redundant. In a survey of our police staff members carried out in the summer, 40% replied that they’re now struggling to pay the bills. This is no way to treat the staff who keep our communities safe.”
Unite’s National Officer Fiona Farmer said: “Police staff have faced years of below inflation pay increases and, at the same time, extensive cuts to their numbers in forces across England and Wales. Staff are angry and feel undervalued by a Government that clearly doesn’t recognise and reward these key public sector workers. Members have voted overwhelmingly to reject the 1% offer and I would urge the employers to return to the negotiating table and deliver a decent pay rise.”