President's Column: Voting in strength

NZPA - Chris Cahill | Thu November 1st, 2018

After months of negotiations, interim results show that 63 per cent of constabulary and 85 per cent of Police employee members have voted to accept the pay offer, and they have voted in strength.

Voting on this collective is up nearly 70 per cent on the previous one, with more than 5000 members voting.

It has been great to see members motivated and turning up in greatly increased numbers to listen to the details of the entire package, voice their opinions and challenge any perceived or actual unfairness.

More than 150 meetings throughout the country were attended by either industrial advocate Greg Fleming, industrial officer Alice O’Connor or me so we could explain, discuss and receive feedback on the package.

There has been robust debate and a variety of opinions on how members felt the offer would affect them individually and as workgroups. Such debate tests the validity of the association’s recommendation in favour of the offer.

We have taken on board concerns during the ratification process and it is still our view that the offer is fair and, most importantly, the best that could be achieved for members.

Issues raised by members included a loss of patience with the current TOIL accrual rule. The idea of working overtime and not being compensated for it is just not acceptable. Although improvements in the ability to cash up TOIL might help, members quite rightly argued they should be paid for overtime worked.

Another theme was the number of senior, experienced officers who do not feel valued and respected. Beyond the issue of pay, it was clear to me that this frustration was a catalyst for a noticeable level of disappointment with the offer.

Given we are involved in an unprecedented recruitment drive for 3000 new police officers over a three-year period, there has never been a greater need for the skills of experienced officers to mentor those fresh on the job. Police needs to urgently re-engage this key group of officers to ensure they are happy in their work and energised to help shape the future of policing in New Zealand.

Undoubtedly, discussion and, ultimately, the vote reflected the pressures of living in Auckland. It is increasingly clear that the Government needs to respond in innovative ways to the raw truth that too many of us cannot afford to live in our biggest city. A head-in-the-sand approach puts at risk the delivery of core government services to Auckland, and policing is patently one of those services.

I sincerely thank all members who took part in the ratification process. You made the effort to attend meetings, you had your say and you voted in impressive numbers. Many of you provided feedback via email, and together you have identified issues that you want to see your association address.

Although these collectives are a step in the right direction, it is clear we still have much to do.

I believe the increase in staff – officers and Police employees – will soon begin to make a real difference to your workloads. This pay deal will support that easing of the pressures, but the association will continue to work on your behalf for the best possible working conditions for members.

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