The Federation has to be the unequivocal voice of policing, getting its message out more and rallying together, the Federation’s national secretary told a conference session looking at pay, conditions and pensions.
The session was facilitated by Tony Blair’s former spokesperson, Alastair Campbell, who recently appeared as a host on the breakfast TV programme Good Morning Britain, and featured inputs from Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) national secretary Alex Duncan and deputy secretary John Partington.
“As we come out of the pandemic and we return to normality, I think it’s beholding on PFEW to be the unequivocal voice of policing. We need to get our message out more – we will all have different opinions, but it’s important we rally together,” Alex said.
John added: “We have to realise how powerful we can be when we come together with a united front.”
Time was spent discussing the uncertainty around pensions with Alex explaining there were officers who did not know when they could retire, what they are entitled to and had no pension forecast.
But he said the Federation was working with the Government and further guidance was imminent, including a pension calculator tool that was being tested.
Asked why the issues had not been resolved by Government, Alex conceded: “I think they want to resolve it but it is incredibly complex.”
And he also stressed that he understood why members were frustrated, particularly since some officers were leaving policing on the wrong pension, something that could not be resolved until the Government issued its guidance on the remedy to the discrimination found in the introduction of the 2015 pension scheme.
Moving on from pensions, both Alex and John were critical of the fact that the Federation had lost negotiating rights in the pay review process, with the Government also being free not to abide by the recommendations of the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) to which the Federation made a submission each year.
John said: “We put a lot of evidence forward each year – the Government can choose to ignore this. We negotiate the best we can, but it’s a very complex arena. There is evidence of officers going to food banks, having pay day loans. It’s not right for the job they do – they should be given the right amount of pay.”
He argued that the Federation put forward its case, backed by evidence and while they were listened to, their views were often not taken notice of or were overlooked.
Officer morale, John said, was decreasing due to pay, pensions and the fact they were not respected by all communities.
Alex added that the Federation’s role was being wrongly diminished by the refusal of Government to allow any appeal or arbitration when the annual pay claim is assessed by PRRB.
He added: “The Home Secretary elects the areas they can look at. The Home Secretary can either accept our evidence or not – there’s no right of appeal or arbitration.”
The issue of further industrial rights was raised by Mr Campbell and Alex admitted: “We have to be careful what we wish for. You don’t hear about all-out strikes where it ends well.”
He also pointed out that with industrial rights employers would get the right to make people redundant.