UNISON police staff committee urges members to reject pay freeze

UK government seeks to impose a pay freeze on most staff – which, with inflation at 3.9%, effectively means a pay cut

Photograph of police officers and PCSOs in high vis jackets

Police staff in England and Wales are being urged by UNISON to vote to reject a pay freeze that the government and police employers want to impose on them this year, with lower earners on salaries of up to £24,000 to receive just £250.

A pay consultation for UNISON police staff members opened last week and runs until 6 September.

The union’s police staff sector committee for England and Wales described the offer as an “insulting” one that does not reward the hard work of police staff during the COVID-19 pandemic or make up for a decade of poor pay awards that have squeezed living standards.

The value of all police staff pay rises over the last 10 years has been 12.2%, while the cost of living has risen by 27.6%.

With the retail price index (RPI) measure of inflation – the rate most commonly used to apply pay awards – at 3.9% police staff pay is going backwards.

A majority vote by police staff against the award could trigger a ballot for industrial action.

UNISON national officer for police Ben Priestley said: “The home secretary thanked police staff for their work during lockdown, but thanks alone will not pay the bills. Police staff are angry and UNISON is determined to secure them a better pay deal.

“This is a cruel and unnecessary government pay freeze. It is shocking that this is the reward for police staff who kept our communities safe during the pandemic and who risked their own safety in coming to work during the lockdowns.”

The national committee is urging all police staff members to vote to reject the pay freeze in the consultative ballot, which is running this month and ends on 6 September. Mr Priestley noted: “We need to send a strong message to government and the employers that police staff are worth more.”

Joanne Everson, vice-chair of UNISON Cymru/Wales police and justice, said: “Police staff have been fundamental in enabling our frontline services to continue to keep our communities safe and informed over the last 16 months.

“The nature of their roles, often working in urgent life-threatening situations where social distancing is impossible, placed staff at greater risk of exposure, potentially taking the virus home to their loved ones.

“Their commitment and sacrifices have not been acknowledged in the recent pay freeze announcement by the government.

“Across the country, the public have taken time to appreciate the pivotal role police and other emergency and care services played bringing the pandemic under control. This announcement undermines the work done by police staff and places additional financial pressure on us.

“UNISON is asking members in Wales and England to send a strong message to the UK government by rejecting this pay freeze.”