Police to ballot over right to strike

by - 22nd March 2012, 20.42 BST

The Police Federation of England and Wales is to ballot its 135,000 members over whether they want full industrial rights, including the right to strike.

Police and prison officers are among those “uniformed services” which are not allowed to strike under current anti-union laws.

(Pictured: Metropolitan Police officers hold sparks activsts during a protest in central London, November 2011)

The Federation’s national committee also agreed to hold a protest in central London before the union’s annual conference in May to highlight what it called ‘the unprecedented attack on policing by this government’ and the consequences of cuts to police budgets on public safety.

The Federation says the ballot will take place as soon as possible.

In the meantime, officials say they will explore all the consequences, including the legal position, of police officers obtaining full industrial rights.

Chair of the South Wales Police Federation, Steve Trigg said: “Every other emergency service is allowed to take industrial action and many police forces in Europe can do likewise.

“If the status of constable as a servant of the crown and therefore the protection afforded to that status is removed, police officers will understandably seek parity with other employees.”

At the same meeting on Thursday, senior reps called upon the Home Secretary Teresa May to reject Tom Winsor’s Part Two report published last week.

The document recommended fitness tests for all officers as well as direct entry schemes for senior staff.

The Metropolitan Police Federation has described the test proposal as “doomed to failure”.

In a message to members, the MPF says threatening misconduct and financial penalties without support to pass such tests is unacceptable. It says a number of recommendations in the report present a “most severe threat” to members’ terms and conditions.

A previous ballot conducted by the Police Federation in 2008 returned an 87% majority in favour of full industrial rights for the police in the absence of a binding arbitration process to settle pay disputes.