A government review has recommended that police overtime and other payments above basic wages be cut, and that 28,000 jobs be cut from police and back-up staff.
Paul McKeever, chair of the Police Federation, reckons that “with the two-year pay freeze and a likely increase in pension contributions... police officers are likely to suffer a 15-20% reduction in the value of their pay”.
Although last October the Government spoke of giving police the right to strike, and in 2008 the Police Federation decided by a large ballot majority to demand the right to strike, at present the cops have no such right.
Police strikes were banned in 1919, after a police strike in 1918-19 when the Government suspected strikers of sympathising with other striking workers in the left-wing mood of the time.
The police are not ordinary workers. But if they start moving for industrial action, the labour movement should back them on a democratic basis as we backed the prison officers’ strikes in 2007.