The Police Federation will ballot its 135,000 members on whether to demand the right to take official industrial action.
The move comes in response to what the Federation call “an unprecedented attack on policing” by the government.
When cops took part in a similar ballot in 2008, 87% of those voting demanded full industrial rights for police.
A legal right for the police to form real unions (rather than the staff association they currently have) and take strike action would be a step forward of sorts. It would create a greater potential for breaking working-class people who take jobs within the capitalist state’s armed machinery from the interests of that state. In a higher pitch of class struggle, the refusal of the police or the army to mobilise against workers in struggle could be crucial to victory and a legal right to strike could make agitating for that easier.
But we cannot be straightforward cheerleaders for “workers’ rights” for the police. They are not “workers in uniform”. The current ballot is all about fighting police cuts; a police strike which demanded more cops on the street is not something socialists could support.
We should support the police’s right to strike, but only because of the limited extra potential it would offer for direct action that threatens the state.