Police on collision course with Priti Patel as 'right to strike' vote looms

·2-min read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel - Yui Mok/Getty Images
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel - Yui Mok/Getty Images

Rank and file police officers are to consider seeking the right to strike over pay for the first time in nearly a decade.

Representatives from all 43 police federations in England and Wales will consider a proposal by West Yorkshire police federation that they should campaign nationally for the right to take industrial action.

The last time there was such a move was in 2013, when the federation was embroiled in a similar row over pay with Theresa May, the then home secretary.

The leadership of the Police Federation, which represents frontline officers, has already declared a vote of no confidence in Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, over their pay freeze. They have also withdrawn from the pay review process.

The move came as National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) called for pay increases, telling Ms Patel that officers "deserve better".

Brian Booth, the West Yorkshire police federation chairman, said: “My colleagues deserve better. My personal opinion is that we now need to canvass our membership on whether they wish to seek full industrial rights.

“Police officers have had 10 years of below-inflation pay awards, most of them being one per cent or below. There is no faith in the police pay mechanism because this is decided on government policy.

“My hard-working colleagues in West Yorkshire witnessed many other workers who have industrial rights, such as NHS and firefighter colleagues, given pay awards. Police officers who have no industrial rights were given nothing.”

The police lost the right to take industrial action and join a trade union in 1919 after a series of police strikes.

The Police Federation balloted its members in 2013 on the right to strike when forces were trying to cope with 20 per cent cuts in funding and major changes to their pay and conditions as a result of the Winsor review.

The result of its ballot shows that only 45,651 – or one-third – of the 133,108 police officers in England and Wales eligible to vote wanted to see the Police Federation campaigning for the right to take industrial action.

A total of 56,333 officers took part in the ballot (a turnout of only 42 per cent), with 10,681 officers voting not to seek the right to strike.

The ballot result showed opinion among police rank and file had not changed significantly since a right-to-strike ballot in May 2008, when 87 per cent of the 60,000 officers who took part endorsed a campaign. In 2013, 81 per cent of the 56,333 who voted backed the principle of industrial action.

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