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Is 2013 the Year Police Officers Get the Right to Strike?

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Police Federation needs the support of 65,000 officers in order to secure mandate for change – votes start on Thursday (31 January).

Since the aftermath of the 1919 strikes, the Police have been banned from taking industrial action. Hence this Thursday will give officers across England and Wales the opportunity to vote on whether they should be allowed to strike.

This mandate for change requires half of the Police Federation’s membership – 65,000 officers – to vote in favour. Thus far 36,000 officers have already registered to vote and the organisers are rather optimistic about the continuance of a high outcome before the ballot closes on Thursday 28 February, 2013.

Police officers do not enjoy the same employment rights as other workers due to the nature of the job they do on behalf of the public, however this does not mean that successive governments have not recognised the unique status of police officers in their negotiations over pay and conditions.

Steve Williams, the Police Federation chairman, has said the ballot follows a period of "unprecedented discontent and low morale" among officers.

"It was agreed that for the Police Federation of England and Wales to embark on a course of action that could potentially change the landscape of British policing forever, it would need a clear mandate from its members to do so," Williams said. "I believe the figure agreed would provide us with that mandate."

Nevertheless, home secretary, Theresa May, has made it fundamentally clear that any question of the right to strike is "off the table", but pledged that the police will remain the best paid of the emergency services.