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PFNI call for mediation powers to resolve pay issues

The Federation has issued a special edition of their magazine “Police Beat” - it features stories from officers and the financial struggles they are currently facing.

The Chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland has warned that the current situation “simply cannot continue” as he makes the case for a new mediation process to resolve pay issues.

PFNI Chair Liam Kelly has outlined that officers are taking on second jobs or leaving the service entirely as they struggle to balance inflation and low pay levels. No pay award has yet been issued for the service – it was due last September.

He has further pointed to the “failure to implement incremental increases” for officers entitled to uplifts based on years served.

In a special edition of the Federation’s magazine “Police Beat”, Mr Kelly said the Fed are seeking access to a new mediation process given that officers cannot take industrial action. Currently pay awards are recommended to the Government by the Police Remuneration Review Body.

The magazine features stories from officers about the lengths they are going to in order to balance their finances.

Trainee officers and constable probationers earn £21,441 and £24,780 respectively under the current PSNI pay scales, while constables have to be in the service for five years before they earn more than £30,000 (£30,411).

The magazine tells the story of one officer and his wife who have both picked up additional employment. The officer, who has been called John (not his real name) is now working around 50 hours a week.

“The extra cash has been a welcome buffer, but if things (the economic squeeze) gets worse, we’ll have to think about using credit cards to get by for a while,” he told Police Beat.

Meanwhile, an unnamed officer has also been quoted saying they are considering retiring or looking for alternative employment – not only due to the financial pressures but also the pressure and conditions they are working in.

“The PSNI have shut most canteens and officers are force to consume a fast-food diet,” they said.

“Night kitchens are not fit for purpose and if you bring food in or have it in the car, more often than not there is nowhere to heat it.

“Meal claims are constantly queried, yet they will only pay £7.25 per meal.”

A Local Policing Survey conducted by PSNI found that 95% of respondents were “very” or “fairly” concerned about the economic crisis.

63% said they couldn’t share their concerns with a line management.

Mr Kelly said: ““We have officers who don’t know where to turn to next. They’re doing all they can to keep their heads above water, but some are saying ‘enough is enough’ and handing in their Warrant Cards.

“We are still waiting for our pay award which will bring some slight relief but will be wholly inadequate in the current harsh economic climate.

“There is also the failure to implement incremental increases where years of service entitle officers to uplifts. Add to that is the fact that basic pay for officers in the first few years of service is wholly unrealistic and in need of urgent review.

“[Officers] are being expected to do more with less and it’s taking a heavy toll on them, which is why so many are experiencing stress and anxiety. The workplace pressures are inexorable.”

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