Socialist Worker

Police staff want more than just coppers

Issue No. 1966

Some 3,500 civilian staff working for the police in Scotland took part in a 24 hour strike over pay on Thursday of last week.

The strikers, members of the Unison union, ranged from emergency call operators and receptionists to laboratory staff involved in forensics and fingerprint analysis.

The atmosphere on picket lines was “very positive”, says Chris Bartter, communications officer for Unison Scotland, with strikers receiving excellent support from the general public.

In Dundee local suppliers turned back rather than cross picket lines.

“We’ve also had recruitment in the run-up to the strike, and good recruitment on the picket lines,” he told Socialist Worker.

“A number of people asked us for membership application forms and were signing up on the day.”

The workers will be deciding their next move at a meeting to be held shortly. Further action could take place.

The union currently organises around 85 percent of Scotland’s 4,000 civilian police support staff.

Unison members voted by 68 percent in favour of the action after their employers, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, insisted on a pay offer of 2.95 percent and 2.5 percent over the next two years.

This is despite the fact that police forces had budgeted for pay rises of between 3 and 3.4 percent for civilian staff, according to figures seen by union negotiators.

The employers are claiming their offer is the same as that accepted by Unison members working directly for local authorities.

But Unison officials dispute this, as well as noting that the two pay claims are in any case separate.

As Socialist Worker went to press there was no new offer from the employers, who are refusing to reopen negotiations unless “modernisation” is tied to any pay deal.

“Apart from one phone call saying ‘there’s no new offer’, we have had no contact from the employers recently,” says Peter Veldon, Unison regional organiser for Scottish police staff.

WEB UPDATE: After Socialist Worker went to press, Unison officials confirmed that Scottish police staff discussed their dispute on Tuesday of this week and are planning a second day of action for 14 September.

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Sat 3 Sep 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1966
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