Police staff to strike on New Year

Hampshire Chronicle: Police community support officers will be among strikers on New Year's Eve. Police community support officers will be among strikers on New Year's Eve.

Thousands of police civilian staff including 999 call handlers are set to strike on New Year's Eve, the PCS union has said.

The planned strike in the capital would coincide with a walkout by London firefighters and c ould see around 7,500 civilian workers taking action on one of the busiest days of the year.

The strike was planned after a below-inflation 1% rise was imposed by the Metropolitan Police last month.

Police and community support officers, 999 call handlers, detention officers in custody suites, and a range of administration and professional support staff are among those who would take action.

Kim Hendry of the PCS said: "Police staff feel undervalued and underpaid. We have members forced to take second jobs, or use payday loans, just to keep afloat.

"Our demands are entirely reasonable - last year the Met saved over £50 million on the police staff budget due to job cuts.

"Just some of that money should be used to fund a decent pay rise, and they are calling on the commissioner and the deputy mayor to demonstrate that they genuinely value the hard work and commitment of police staff."

The Met has already cancelled leave for police officers and is making contingency plans.

The PCS said the strike was voted for by almost three to one while the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) put the figure at one in 12 police staff voting for strike action.

The Metropolitan Police described the 1% pay rise as being " at the ceiling of the Government's public sector pay policy and the pay increase was given without any strings attached to it".

It claimed the PCS's demands include a pay increase of up to 6%.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: " The PCS has now informed the MPS that they intend to take strike action on New Year's Eve - one of the days when demand for our services is highest.

"We have tried-and-tested business continuity plans for all eventualities, including industrial action. These ensure that critical functions performed by police staff are performed by police officers who are fully trained in those roles.

"To ensure we are able to implement these plans, we stopped granting any further requests for annual leave or days off for officers and staff in a number of key areas for New Year's Eve in mid-December.

"In some cases we've also had to take the very difficult decision to cancel planned days off for officers with certain critical skills or in critical operational areas.

"These are clearly all steps we'd rather not take, but we have to be prepared to maintain critical operational areas in the event of a strike action by police staff, and we are confident that we have appropriate plans in place."

Senior union representatives are discussing the possibility of co-ordinating industrial action with the Fire Brigades Union.

Officials said the Metropolitan Police could afford to pay staff more after saving millions of pounds on police staff salaries in recent years due to job cuts.

The PCS said staff also feared for their futures as the Met was considering privatising the work of about 4,000 civilian workers.

In an industrial action ballot, 72.5% voted for strike action on a 23.1% turnout.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The Met Police is not short of money, it does not need to force pay cuts on low-paid staff who help to keep London safe."

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