Police accept ‘best pay offer they could expect’

Police have accepted the Government’s latest pay offer, but many have reservations.

Police Association president Chris Cahill said 63 percent of constabulary members voted in favour of the offer, leaving 37 percent who were unhappy with the offer, and voted to reject it.

Meanwhile, 86 percent of police employee members voted to accept the offer.

The Government’s offer is a 3 percent pay increase each year for three years. There are also rises to certain allowances, including for shift work.

However, it does nothing to address living cost pressures, especially for those living in Auckland – something that’s been raised repeatedly by the association and its members.

Last month the association recommended the offer to its members, after immediately rejecting the Government’s initial offer of 2 percent.

At the time of recommending the second offer to members, Cahill said it was the best offer police officers could expect at this time.

He reiterated this stance on Thursday, saying it was not a great offer but it was the best the union could do for members in the current climate, and was in line with pay rises given to other public services workers, like nurses.

But there were still areas of concern, which the association would continue to work on, he said.

One of the key concerns is the unaddressed rising cost of living in Auckland.

The association has set up a working group, which will report back in six months, to look at ways to relieve cost pressures on police staff.

This could include measures such as changing rosters. Cahill also cited the possibility of childcare subsidies and transport subsidies.

But during the negotiations process the Government turned down any Auckland-specific measures which would require further money. And the Government would not give any future financial commitment to relieving cost pressures in certain regions.

“The association considers this pay deal as part of a package which encompasses the Government’s promised 20 percent increase in staffing over the next three years,” Cahill said.

“We have been adamant from the beginning of this process that it is not extra staff or a pay increase, but a combination of the two so the mounting stresses throughout policing, and in particular on the front line, are comprehensively addressed.”

Police Minister Stuart Nash said he was glad to hear police had reached an agreement with the union and its members in relation to pay negotiations.

The Police offer demonstrated a commitment to the front line with increases in pay and benefits for staff, he said.

“Police have informed me the negotiations with the association were constructive, and they are pleased to have come to a resolution that works in the interests of both association members and Police.”

National Party police spokesman Chris Bishop said everyone wanted police to be paid properly, but 4.7 percent year-on-year for three years was “quite a sizeable increase”.

Bishop was referring to the 1.7 percent annual base pay increase locked into police contracts if they met competency standards – something that was almost guaranteed.

“I suspect teachers are going to look at the offer to police and think: ‘that’s interesting’.”

Bishop did not want to comment further on the offer, as he was not close enough to the negotiations.

The deal comes amid widespread collective negotiations in the public sector.

Following a strike in July, nurses accepted a $520 million pay deal.

Meanwhile, both primary and secondary teachers and principals are in the midst of negotiations.

PPTA members rejected an initial offer and asked the Government to come back with an improved offer to take to members.

And NZEI members are staring down the barrel of a week of rolling strikes – following a one-day national strike in August.

The rolling strikes are set down for the week of November 12, unless an agreement is reached before then.

The Government’s consistent message throughout all negotiations has been that it understands the frustrations faced by nurses, teachers and police, especially in terms of under resourcing, a lack of staff, and rising living costs, but it can only do so much in one Budget.

But Cahill said the Government needed to address cost pressures for those living and working in Auckland. If not, it would face losing core public service workers in the country’s biggest city.

“If that does not happen, there is a serious risk of losing the ability to provide core Government services to the greater Auckland area, and policing is most definitely one of those core services.”

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