Police in Scotland made the “most overt demonstration of action” in more than a century on Friday, withdrawing their “goodwill” amid a pay dispute.
Police Scotland withdrew “all goodwill” on Friday at 5pm after the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) rejected a “derisory” flat £565 annual pay increase.
Because police officers are not permitted to take strike action, their options for protest are limited.
However, officers’ refusal to work late or take on extra, unpaid responsibilities is likely to have a significant impact on “withdrawing goodwill.” The Scottish Police Federation, which represents 98 percent of Scotland’s police, said its members were prepared to take action “for many months” unless “significant improvement” was made.
The withdrawal of goodwill is in response to a wage dispute that is still ongoing.
The SPF, which represents all ranks of officers, requested 3.4 percent.
It stated that the current offer was about 2% for most members and 1% for higher-earning members.
“As you may be aware, the Joint Central Committee (JCC) of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) unanimously endorsed a series of actions in response to the derisory pay offer made to our members on the 16 May,” SPF general secretary Calum Steele wrote in a letter to Chief Constable Iain Livingston.
I am writing to inform you that beginning at 1700 hours on Friday, July 1st, our members will cease all policing efforts. Additional actions to protect our members’ health and safety, as well as to mitigate the effects of the cost-of-living crisis on them.”
Officers will file overtime claims for things they normally do on their own time, such as staying late, arriving early for briefings, and charging vital equipment at home.
The SPF has advised officers not to arrive for shifts early, finish at the time specified on their roster, or request extra time; and not to charge personal equipment, home radios, and data appliances at home in order to save money on energy bills.
Officers failing to arrive until their shifts begin, requiring the previous shift to stay and claim overtime.
“I need to be clear that the formal withdrawal of good will is not an action that the JCC has endorsed lightly,” Mr Steele said. It is, however, a manifestation of our members’ strong feelings about the utter contempt this pay offer represents for them.”
Mr Steele called it “the most significant discontent in the police service since the 1970s, and the most overt demonstration of action by our members in more than a century.”
The action could have an impact on the Open Championship in St Andrews. Up to 29,000 people are expected to attend, and a large police operation dubbed “Project Servator” has been planned for months.
The plans may be disrupted as a result of the action, according to Andy Malcolm, a police inspector and full-time official with the Scottish Police Federation (SPF).
“It will have an effect, most likely a significant effect on delivery,” he told the paper.
He stated that in most cases, officers would arrive up to an hour before their shift for major events such as the Open and would not claim overtime.
“Police Officer pay has been negotiated for many years through the Police Negotiating Board (PNB), which includes Police Officer Staff Associations, the Scottish Police Authority, Police Scotland, and the Scottish Government,” a spokesperson for the Scottish Government said. The PNB process for pay for 2022/23 is still ongoing, and we await the outcome of those discussions.”
“We recognise the significant goodwill officers bring to their roles on a daily basis as they keep people safe across the country, and this is also valued by the communities they serve,” a Police Scotland spokesperson said. As a result, we remain committed to reaching an agreement through the Police Negotiating Board.”
Other UK nations’ forces are showing signs of discontent. In a blog post for the Police Federation’s #PayOurPolice campaign on Friday, the chair of the Wiltshire Police Federation accused the government of using the police as a “easy target to offer ridiculously low pay.”
The campaign was launched in May to call for a “huge increase” in staff pay as the cost of living crisis worsens.
According to the Police Federation of England and Wales’ (PFEW) Pay and Morale Survey conducted in February of this year, 14% of officers in England and Wales say they never or almost never have enough money to cover their monthly essentials.
“Solidarity with our Scottish colleagues who have been treated with contempt and disdain in their PNB process,” the Police Federation for Northern Ireland tweeted this week.