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‘League Table’ Fears Over Police Staff Pay

Forces could be forced to compete against each others’ pay rates if local bargaining becomes popular among PCCs

Setting police staff pay rates locally across England and Wales would be disastrous for morale and encourage a “league table situation” of forces, PoliceOracle.com has been told.

Unison is concerned that police and crime commissioners are being directed towards local pay bargaining – as opposed to national collective bargaining.

This could result in different pay scales across England and Wales with staff members receiving different salaries for the same job.

National collective bargaining currently takes place through the Police Staff Council (PSC) – with unions making up the staff side. In his second report on pay and conditions, Tom Winsor said the PSC should continue to exist, with individual forces free to set their pay grades locally and using a national spine as a guide.

However, Unison now fears PCCs may be encouraged to leave the PSC “in its entirety”.

The Home Office has confirmed that the bargaining issue is a decision for PCCs to make themselves.

Policing Lead for Unison, Ben Priestley, said national bargaining was essential to fair pay for all police staff.

He said: “What we hear in briefings and behind the scenes is that police and crime commissioners are being fed this Tory line that national collective bargaining should be devolved to the lowest level possible – forgetting that most private sector organisations have national bargaining.

“We would oppose that and fight it absolutely as our members support the determination of their pay nationally – it allows for fairness and for equality.”

Mr Priestley said encouraging local pay determination would cost more money. He added: “It would make forces compete for rates – force A having to pay more than force B – that is what happened in the railway industry. Unions could then exploit the situation to force up rates of pay.

“If there was a league table of employers, which force would you go and work for?”

The Union official’s comments were backed by West Midlands PCC Bob Jones who said he would oppose such a move in “practical and theoretical terms”.

He said: “If people are paying significantly larger amounts of money elsewhere and staff can get to those places rather easily, I would be losing specialised staff.

“It would be 100 per cent fiercely opposed by myself.

Currently only three forces in the UK have local pay scales – the Met, Kent and Surrey Police.

Mr Priestley said any departure from the PSC could also have implications for collaboration across forces.

He said: “How could you work alongside a colleague doing the same job from another force who is paid potentially £5,000 more?

“How bad is that for morale?

“A national pay and grade system would make collaboration much easier.”

Unison has drawn up employment charters for PCCs to sign up to – in a bid to commit them to national bargaining.

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