Tools down. All out…

The Winsor Report part 2 has well and truly put the cat amongst the pigeons. The document I understand is nigh on 1000 pages long. There are many recommendations that I will not go into here.

Suffice to say that on twitter today the primary focus has been on the announcement today that the Police Federation have decided to ballot police officers about the right to strike. The press release is here.

As a general description, striking is the last resort. When all negotiations have failed. When companies or governments have failed to listen or not given the answers the people want to hear then direct action is considered. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t.

The decision today is an emotive one for police officers. I for one have always been very critical of the Fire Service. They proclaim to want to protect and save lives. The tell us about the dangers of fire and then when things don’t go their way they go on strike. More than once they have walked out and left 18-25yr old soldiers to fight fires with 60yr old fire engines. To me the behaviour is deplorable. If this nails my colours to the mast then it stands to reason that as a police officer I will not strike.

I don’t want to strike.

I learnt a lesson from someone who’s writing I respect a while ago. The principles were applied to blogging and can be summed up as;

  1. Don’t jump in too soon
  2. Watch the developments and see what others have to say
  3. Consider their views and your own
  4. Post a sensible, well researched and objective article.

A second lesson I learnt myself recently was;

  1. Never blog in anger

In view of all the above I will not blog further on this topic today. Suffice to say that the police service in this country feels like it is being bullied. We operate under very different terms and conditions of employment to anyone else in the country. We cannot be made redundant but we can be performance managed out of the job. We have no industrial rights and our sole voice as a collective body is The Police Federation. We tried to talk to the last government and they rode roughshod over our annual pay increase. We have tried to talk to this government and they continually fail to listen to us and press through their reforms.

Who knows where this situation is going to end? I certainly don’t. What is certain though. A guard dog protects you and your property. If treated well it will work hard, always be alert and be ready to respond 24/7. If you continually beat it with a stick though you will need to be careful because one day it may just turn around and bite you.

Police officers going on strike is not an easy situation to achieve. The law dictates that we are prohibited from doing so. Changing that will need the government to allow us to or be defeated in some sort of court case I guess. That said, I welcome the vote and I will be interested to see what the response to it will be.

The tough moral decision will be what to do, if the situation arises, when the call goes out.. “Tools down. All out…”

It should be noted of course that there are many aspects to industrial action before a full blown strike

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14 thoughts on “Tools down. All out…”

  1. The Police are a service set rightly aside from other public sector services. The role is unique, necessarily so.

    When reading this, and thinking of the debate around police striking generally, I am reminded of ‘A Few Good Men’, particularly Jack Nicoholson’s courtroom speech:

    And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way…

    I may at times find the actions taken by some officers to be grotesque and incomprehensible. But overall, I do want you on that wall, and I do need you on that wall.

    You attested that you would uphold my fundamental human rights; that you would cause the peace to be kept, and prevent all offences against people and property.

    You can’t do that while you are on strike.

    1. There are other courses of action to take before we ever get close to withdrawing labour. No police officer wants to do these things; we joined because we believed in a free and just society. However this attack by the Govt needs to stop. They are attacking the service we love and respect. We all know the motivation behind it; David Cameron was an advisor to Sheehy and now its time for revenge irrespective of the impact on our communities. We have had enough. The fightback begins and we have the resolve to see it through.

  2. Of course the majority of officers agree and do not want to strike. However for them to carry out their duty they must have the support of GOvernment whose primary function is the security of the nation. That now appears to have become a side issue because of idealism and self interest. If this is not challenged now there won’t be a police force to defend you – unless of course you can afford it!

    1. Well, wait. Your oath wasn’t a caveated one – nowhere does it say ‘providing my pay structure is one I agree with’.

      You can’t act like any other public or private sector workforce, when your very oath is what sets you aside from any other workforce.

      The Government does support the police, however, it may not support you financially in the way you would like. That is a very different argument.

      1. This is not just about pay. If you have read Winsor 2 and understand the principles of policing you will know they are under threat. Policing is about serving the public without fear or favour, which I believe is under threat. Our oath does not mean we should become cannon fodder to be discarded at a whim because we may have been active and injured or worse dared to enforce the law against someone in a position of influence. The status of a warranted constable who takes the oath to which you refer is the bedrock of our policing and our society. It is too important to be used as a football. We have asked for years for a Royal Commission to establish what is needed from modern policing. Governments refuse as it would undermine their ideology and give ‘the Public’ the opportunity to say what they needt. I can’t say I have noticed much support from Government. Five officers injured, mauled by a dog, all over the media, Home Secretary also on media and I didn’t notice any support! I could go on but please do not think this decision has been taken lightly and solely on the basis of pay.

  3. Society would be a big mess with police on strike. An independent pay review body exists to take pay out of minister’s hands. For their own reasons the government has decided to ignore them, the likely arrival of regional pay is only aimed at being divisive and will be a further kick to an already beleaguered service.

    I don’t know I agree with special pleading – fire, collapsing buildings and noxious or explosive chemicals can end a career or a life just as effectively as someone with a knife or a gun.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say the fire service actually chose to have a fight with HMG, the government had a plan to bolt their pay that the FBU and the service opposed. Neither side would give in, as much on the brigade’s behalf for the current staff as that of those coming in to the job. As with any argument, someone had to get the ball rolling. Either side could’ve given in, but at what cost? On one side political, on the other financial impossibility to carry on doing the job you love.

    Police striking would be a very disconcerting thing, the political ramifications are as complicated and as potentially far-reaching as the civil ones.

    I hope it doesn’t come to a strike, the question is how much is the service prepared to see its’ work and worth devalued? At what point will the government decide obligations should be met.

  4. Here is a comment from a friend of mine. I love her dearly and she is an inspiration to me. You know who you are. xx

    *********

    Police officers join the force to serve under the law; as part of that service they are asked to sign away certain employment rights that others enjoy. As a society, we honour that commitment by taking upon ourselves the protection of the rights and appropriate remuneration for the police force. Our representatives, the politicians, are charged with delivering this side of the contract. Given that we (the nation) have asked for their employment rights it is up to us to sit with them ON THE SAME SIDE OF THE TABLE, and find a solution. Cost cuts that are the product of efficiency savings will not erode the appropriate remuneration of officers, they will change the way in which operations are carried out. IN TIME, this will probably lead to labour being released and, therefore, job cuts BUT THE SERVICE WILL NOT SUFFER. When cuts start at the end of this process: with indiscriminate and ill-thought through job cuts, to satisfy the short term needs of a political cycle, you end up with a dishonoured force, cuts in services for only marginal cost cuts in the longer term. If police officers are asking for full employment rights it is because we have not delivered on our side of the bargain.

  5. I worked in trading standards, now retired. In my latter years did more and more work with Police;anti- counterfeiting, investigating fraudulent and aggressive rogue traders. Always valued police presence, and worked alongside some excellent cops, constables and sergeants mainly. Criminal that your service is facing cuts at same time as tens of millions being spent upon PCs and the bureaucracy that they will create. Can Confused Govt honestly think that more than 15% of electorate will turn out to vote in elections for PCs.

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