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Staff side reviews pay strategy as public sector strikes loom

Staff leaders are recalibrating their response to a government warning that pay deals won’t match rocketing inflation.

Frontline leaders have pledged to push for a 'fair' pay deal despite a government warning it intends to keep to below inflation rises.

It comes as the Scottish Police Federation announced its members would be ceasing goodwill work over their deal.

The battle over pay is getting tougher after the government warned it was not prepared to offer a pay deal that will help officers meet soaring living costs.

Staff groups including the Police Federation and Police Superintendents’ Association are rethinking how they approach pay talks – with grassroots members urging them to consider options like work to rule.

Fed National Chair, Steve Hartshorn, said ministers shouldn't abuse the fact his members cannot strike.

He said: “Officers, who put their lives on the line every single day, deserve a fair pay increase which accurately reflects the soaring cost of living and proves the government values the unique and professional role they have in society.

"There is also a certain irony that police officers are policing a lawful strike to assist others in seeking remuneration and protections, when they themselves cannot."

It came as a Treasury minister made clear the government was not prepared to consider double digit pay rises in the public sector.

"We can't have inflation-busting pay increases" said Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke

'Double-digit pay increases are not sustainable and not affordable and people shouldn't be looking for that.'

Policing staff leaders say they don’t want to consider the “nuclear option” of industrial action but accept they are now being overtaken by events.

And grassroots members want then to take a tougher line - a view strengthened by the Scottish Police Federation announcing the start of work to rule.

They have rejected a £595 pay offer and will now halt any work done as good will.

Calum Steele, the Scottish Police Federation's general secretary, said: "At their most basic level, these actions amount to the wholesale removal of the good will that the service requires to operate.

"Significantly, this good will and flexibility saves the police service money, and its removal will be both costly and disruptive."

English Fed leader Mr Hartshorn said: “We will continue to have an open and honest dialogue with the government to push for fairer pay and conditions that make a tangible difference.”

Staff organisations are re-grouping after barristers announced they are going on strike over the summer, bringing the justice system to a standstill – and other public sector unions warning they are considering strike action.

The NEU and the NASUWT teaching unions have put into the teacher’s pay review board for a rise of 12%.

The official indicator is that inflation will hit 11% per cent later this year.

The government is also facing a national labour shortage which is driving up private sector pay. And that leverage is having an impact where employees are able to show their skills will be in demand elsewhere.

The new team at the Federation has already made the blunt assessment that HM Treasury rather than the Home Office is the decision-maker and see little point in re-engaging with the employers’ side.

And that’s why the Home Secretary’s invitation to re-join the PRRB is being ignored.

“It’s quite clear that it’s the Treasury who are driving this and that’s who we need to be engaging with. Anything else is meaningless,” a source told Police Oracle.

Other public sector unions are also questioning whether pay boards are worth bothering with if the government overrules them.

Prospect, said: "Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke told Sky News that public sector pay is determined by independent pay review bodies. He either doesn't know how civil service pay works, or is attempting to pass the buck on pay."

The Fed warned salaries now lag behind inflation "massively" and the government will have to make urgent decisions.

Mr Hartshorn said: “Costs have increased – gas, electric and fuel costs all continue to rise, and national insurance contributions have also gone up.

“My colleagues and their families are struggling to make ends meet. I fear the situation will get worse as inflation continues to rise.”

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