On the 10th May 2012, we saw approx 35,000 (120 from Gloucestershire) rank and file Police Officers walk the streets of London in anger at what is happening to our pay, pension, terms and conditions of service. Those attending understood the implications of Winsor 1 and 2 and despite what the politicians are telling communities they know our ability to serve and protect the public is being sorely tested.
In order to keep you informed of developments Graham Riley has been going around the Force providing information and answering questions, our Fed News Letters have been emailed individually to all officers and the website has been kept up-to-date with letters, articles and actions taken.
However it is clear that a number of you are not fully aware of the current situation so this communication will attempt to bring you up to date.
Part one of Tom Winsor’s “independent” review of policing was first published in March 2011. It contained 59 recommendations which if implemented would have changed our conditions of service dramatically. Before our National team entered into negotiations we asked for your thoughts on what you would consider accepting as a bargaining tool to keep those things you did not want to lose – Only two officers responded. Your Local Reps are asking similar questions with regards Winsor 2. Please let them or us know what you definitely can’t agree to and indicate where there might be some room for negotiation.
27 of the Part One recommendations were put forward to the Police Negotiating Board (PNB). The PNB failed to reach agreement on 18 of the 27 recommendations and these were referred to the Police Arbitration Tribunal (PAT) in July 2011. The PAT provided its findings on 9 January 2012. It accepted 10 of the 18 recommendations, modified five and made no award on three.
The Police Federation has a seat at both the PNB and PAT and it is through this negotiating framework that we were able to inform and influence the debate to ensure that only a minority of Winsor’s recommendations were ultimately accepted.
Following the PAT decision some officers were incensed declaring that the Federation had worked hard to fight recommendations that would protect their pay and conditions, and had done nothing for the younger in service. Whilst there is a stereotypical image of a Federation rep as being of longer service than most I can assure you that this could not be further from the truth. I can honestly say that our National negotiators fought hard and achieved a great deal for all ranks at all stages of service. Take some time to read the full transcript for each recommendation and you will see that this is the case.
I won’t repeat here what the implications of Winsor 2 are as Graham has already put these out in a News letter and on the Web. However it is important to say that Winsor 2 has the potential to change the face of policing forever. If fully implemented we will not only go back to the days of poorly paid officers as in the 1970’s, but it will no longer be a vocation for the working and middle classes, as according to Winsor unless you come from an “officer class” background, with the ability to pay for your own training and policing qualifications, you would be incapable of being a Police Officer! So much for diversity and equality for all.
The Federation will do all that they can, both locally and nationally to protect the rights of our members, and to maintain current terms and conditions of service. There has been a national media campaign (Newspaper adverts, poster campaigns and Open meetings) throughout Winsor 1 and this will continue as we negotiate on Winsor 2. The National Chair, Paul McKeever and General Secretary, Ian Rennie are in a constant battle with the Home Office. Ian Anderson, Mike Harrison, Ian White and myself have all been on local and national radio and TV. We will continue to seek exposure in the media as appropriate. We will also continue to Lobby MPs and would encourage all of you to do the same.
Although there have been great efforts with the media, some of our members have said that they are fed up with just reading about the 20% cuts to the budget, they want to see more about what they are losing in the media. Unfortunately, in the public’s view we are a very well paid service. The National Survey of Hours and Earnings for the financial year-end 2011 recorded the average wage for a Public Sector worker was £28,808 compared to a Private Sector worker at £24,544. Hence right at the start the decision was taken to talk about the effect that the cuts would have on service delivery rather than how it would affect the pay of officers. When the public are losing their jobs they won’t have much sympathy for a group who may be paid less but still have a job. Thats not to say that we shouldn’t talk about the cuts in our wages more that we have to be careful how we deliver the message. Consequently we must also remember that the media is a commercial commodity and our messages have to be geared to the parts of our argument that capture theirs as well as the public’s interest if we are to maintain their support.
Many of you will have played your part by coming on the March, writing to and visiting your MP’s. If you haven’t contacted your MP you need to do so as this is the most effective way of getting the message to Number 10 and the Home Office. We need all of you to get involved. Doing nothing is not an option because it is only by sitting down and speaking to these people face to face that we can get a true message across and get them to change their views.
In terms of pensions consultation is yet to start. Lord Hutton published his review into public sector pensions at about the same time Tom Winsor published his first review. Since this time the public sector unions have been offered protection for those within 10 years of retirement as of 1st April 2012 in that they will see no changes to their current pension. It is likely that the same offer will be made to the police. The Federation will also be seeking wider protection for those outside of this 10 year period.
The march in London was an opportunity to raise our profile and to symbolise the strength of feeling of our members regarding the Governments attack on policing. We have not conceded defeat on any of the Governments proposals and will continue to fight to protect the rights of all of our members.
We are at Conference this week where we will be joined by 11 Day trippers, a disappointing reduction on the coach load we took last year.
Following Conference the campaign to bring what the government are doing to a stop will continue. Please be part of that campaign.
Tracy De Young