Socialist Worker

Police ballot and rally on right to strike

by Patrick Ward
Issue No. 2296

The Police Federation is set to ballot its 135,000 members on whether police officers should have the right to take industrial action—including the right to strike.

It also announced a march and rally planned for May against what it claims are an “unprecedented attack on policing by the government”.

The Police Federation is angry at budget cuts, which it claims amount to 20 percent, and a report commissioned by home secretary Theresa May which recommended fitness tests for officers and pay cuts.

A graphic on the Police Federation website sums up their argument. A picture of a young man wearing a hoodie and pointing a gun at the camera accompanies the slogan “Consequences of 20 percent cuts to policing?”

A similar ballot into the right of police to take industrial action took place in May 2008. In this 87 percent of those who voted demanded full rights to take action.

That ballot followed a 20,000 strong march by officers in London against then prime minister Gordon Brown’s public sector pay freeze.

If the police were to strike it would be the first time such action was taken since police in Liverpool struck in 1919. The government then banned police from walking out.

But police are not like other groups of workers.

Arguments that the police fight crime on behalf of everyone in society disguise the truth.

They hassle young, working class and black people, and do nothing to stop corporate fraud.

The role of the police in society is to clamp down on working class resistance, not add to it.

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Article information

Tue 27 Mar 2012, 17:53 BST
Issue No. 2296
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