A historic vote took place today, marking a huge step forward for working people – and it happened largely because of the government’s policy of capping public sector pay at a time of growing inflation:
Police officers in England and Wales have voted by a big majority to lobby the government for the right to strike.
Of those who voted, 93% wanted independent Police Arbitration Tribunal decisions to be made binding.
And in the absence of binding arbitration, 86% said the Police Federation should lobby for officers to be allowed “full industrial rights”.
The vote followed a dispute over a 2.5% pay rise to be awarded in stages, which reduced the overall increase to 1.9%.
The result of the ballot was announced at the Police Federation’s conference in Bournemouth.
Ballot papers were sent to 140,000 police constables, sergeants and inspectors, and 60,572 of them voted – a turn-out of 43%.
An informal survey of 9,000 members of the Police Federation in Northern Ireland produced similar results on a “satisfactory turnout”.
Police Federation chairman Jan Berry said there was a sense of “betrayal” when agreement was not reached over pay.
She told BBC News: “Because we don’t have the right to take industrial action, we have arbitration.
“Arbitration is binding on the police officers and it wasn’t binding and it isn’t binding on the home secretary.
“Whilst we’ve had 28 years of being able to trust the government to honour either the arbitration finding or the agreement of the Police Negotiating Board, last December they decided to betray that trust.”
Ms Berry added it was not a vote for strike action, but a go-ahead to lobby the government on the issue.