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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 December 2007, 23:41 GMT
Police to vote on right to strike
Jacqui Smith
Officers passed a vote of no confidence in Jacqui Smith
Every police officer in the UK is to be balloted over whether they want to lobby for the right to strike, the Police Federation has said.

Officers are furious at Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's decision not to backdate a 2.5% pay rise for police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ms Smith has said she does not believe most officers want the right to strike.

But at a meeting, Police Federation members passed a vote of no confidence in Ms Smith and demanded she resign.

Independent tribunal

Chairwoman Jan Berry said: "I don't remember such a call by the Police Federation being made previously but I also don't remember a home secretary who has betrayed the police service in the way that this home secretary has."

As a serving Police Constable in Lancashire Constabulary, I could not and would not go on strike
Ben, Lancashire

The 2.5% pay deal was decided through the independent Police Arbitration Tribunal.

It will see all police constables paid a minimum of 21,500, with those with the longest service receiving 33,800.

But officers say if it is introduced this month and not backdated to September, an entry level police constable will lose 131, and a sergeant will lose 206.

In Scotland, the pay rise has been backdated but Scottish officers have come out in support of colleagues in the rest of the UK.

Rank-and-file police vent anger at what they see as government "betrayal"

They will also be balloted on seeking the right to go on strike - police officers across the UK are currently banned from taking strike action.

Scottish Police Federation chairman Norrie Flowers said the Scottish Executive had honoured its agreement to backdate the pay deal and that Ms Smith "should do the same".

Critics say that without backdating, it amounts in real terms - due to inflation - to an increase of only 1.9%.

'Vital work'

The retail prices index, on which many pay deals are based, puts the current level of inflation at 4.2%.

But Gordon Brown told MPs that police pay had risen by 39% over the last 10 years and that Scotland had only been able to backdate its pay rise by putting plans to recruit 500 new officers on hold.

POLICE PAY ROW

Earnings lost if 2.5% rise not backdated to September 2007

Rank Salary Loss
PC (entry level) 21,009 131
PC (after training) 24,813 155
Sergeant 32,985 206
Inspector 42,264 264

A Home Office statement said that the government was "grateful for the vital and hard work which police officers carry out every day".

But it said it had to ensure that pay settlements were "affordable and consistent with wider pay policy".

Some 78 MPs have signed a motion tabled by the home affairs select committee chair, Keith Vaz, urging a rethink on the issue.

Officers from each of the 43 forces in England and Wales attended Wednesday's crisis summit in London.

They were joined by representatives from all the police staff associations, including the Police Superintendents' Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers.

PUBLIC SECTOR PAY
Police constables currently start on 21,009
Teachers' starting salary is 19,161 in England and Wales. In Scotland it is 23,316
New prison officers earn 18,483 in England and Wales. In Scotland they receive 14,373
Lower grade civil servants, such as administration assistants, begin on between 11,750 and 14,083 depending on department
Firefighters start on 20,396, rising to 27,185 after reaching "competent" status
Source: Unison 2006 figures, Fire Brigades Union

The BBC's Julian Joyce said the decision to call on the home secretary to resign appeared to be popular among the rank and file.

Neil Cratchley, general secretary of the Police Federation's largest branch - the Metropolitan Police, said: "This is a process that has gone on for seven months and it's now crystal clear that she never had any intention of honouring the agreement.

"We are dealing here with matters of trust and the home secretary has breached that trust."

PC Mike Taylor from Nottinghamshire said the dispute was "not about the money at all".

He said: "The money we're talking about is probably about 200 to 400 between the ranks, and that's nothing at all really.

"The real problem with this is the way the Home Office have handled the negotiations from start to finish."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Chair of Police Federation of England and Wales



SEE ALSO
Q&A: Police pay dispute
12 Dec 07 |  UK
Pay deal boost for Scots police
06 Dec 07 |  Scotland
Police officers accept pay offer
29 Nov 07 |  Scotland

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