Police pay round will be interesting

The Herald reports:

Police are beginning to press their claims for better pay and conditions, with negotiations between their union and their bosses beginning this week.

Among the issues concerning frontline officers are recruitment, retention and pay.

The Police Association has warned its members in its monthly magazine Police News that there could be some “torrid negotiations” ahead which it says it is well-prepared for.

The negotiations come at a time marked by industrial action in the public sector. Nurses have already been on strike, primary school teachers will strike next month, ACC senior doctors walked off the job this week, and MBIE and IRD staff have been on strike.

Legally, police cannot go on strike but Police Association president Chris Cahill warned Police Minister Stuart Nash that frustration may materialise in more staff leaving the force.

The Coalition Government has promised 1800 new frontline officers over three years but police say recruitment will not cover the “churn rate” of police leaving the force.

This will be very interesting, if an agreement can’t be reached.

As the Police can’t strike, the dispute goes to binding arbitration. But it is different to the normal arbitration which strikes a compromise.

The arbitrators are given a copy of the final offer from the Commissioner and the final demand from the Police Association and choose one of them in its entirety.

This incentivises both sides to make reasonable offers because if for example the union demand 30% pay increase, then the arbitrator will choose the Commissioner’s offer. But also if the Commissioner offers say just 1%, then the union demand would be chosen. So the nature of the arbitration means the two sides often end up close to each other.

But what will make it even more interesting is the pay rises for nurses and teachers. If they get 12% pay increases, then the arbitrators would look more favorably on a demand of say 15%.

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