I have a lot of sympathy for the police over their anger at the government refusing to backdate a their pay increase, as promised.
As a teacher I got only 2.5% over 18 months which equates to a 1.8% per annum increase (0.1% less than the police), whilst the government promised a pay review if inflation reached 3%, which it did, and the government again broke its promise on that too. So I know what it is like.
The problem I have though is some police officers are now saying, on the first occasion that they have not received a better pay deal than the rest of the public sector, they want the right to strike. I am a member of a union and I support people's right to strike. However, I object to people receiving good pay deals every year in return for having an agreement not to strike, then threatening to tear up this agreement. Other public sector workers have received equally derisory pay increased but there has been no clamour to strike, and nor should there be.
At the moment everyone is having to tighten their belts a bit. The economy is not flushed with cash, the government is not awash with the billions it had ten years ago whilst the housing market is precarious and their are real credit fears. In short, everyone is having to be more cautious about things. I am not fan of the government breaking its promises over pay, indeed, it is disgusting that they have broken any pay promise. But anyone going on strike at the moment over this is likely to incur the wrath of the general public, and in turn lose a lot of sympathy.
I remember well a few years ago when I worked for Norwich Union that bosses there balloted mid level managers in the company to persuade them to leave the union and join the Senior Staff Consultative Forum (SSCF), or the chocolate fireguard as it became known to more junior staff. In return for leaving the union and signing away their rights to be members of the proper trade union, they were offered inflation + pay rises, whilst the rest of us lower staff were given inflation only rises. Happy days for senior staff then ? No. The next year Norwich Union had a major cull of mid level managers, and with no union to speak on their behalf, nobody payed the slightest attention to the SSCF.
And therein lies the police problem. They signed away their right to strike in return for pay rises that were better than everyone else, but lost the ultimate power to get the best deal for themselves. Now by wanting to strike when they have been used so many times to help "break" strikes, they will be seen as hypocrites. I cannot blame individual officers, but the Police Federation itself looks very silly and selfish at the moment.