Newcastle Herald: Police pay dispute likely to drag into next year, union says

The Police Association of NSW's Hunter-based northern region executive member Ian Allwood.

 The Police Association of NSW’s Hunter-based northern region executive member Ian Allwood.

Hearings over a pay dispute between NSW Police and the Police Association of NSW are scheduled to finish next week, but the police union says it is not expecting a final decision until next year.

The most recent award, applied in 2017, expired in July.

Negotiations that began 11 months before the end of that agreement have made their way to the Industrial Relations Commission – with the 2017 award rolling over in the meantime.

The union served a log of claims last December and the parties have agreed on non-award conditions including maintaining the existing level of contributions, benefits and entitlements under the Death and Disability Scheme.

The association’s Hunter-based northern region executive member Ian Allwood said he did not believe the Industrial Relations Commission would hand down its decision until early 2021.

“This will mean that our members have been left hanging not just for the six months since our industrial award expired on June 30, but for a full 16 months since we first tried to open negotiations,” he told the Newcastle Herald on Tuesday.

“The failure of our employer and the government to sit down and reach a new agreement with us is beyond disappointing, made worse by a refusal to commit to back pay when a decision is reached.”

Mr Allwood said the NSW government should “back up” the words of Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who thanked the state’s police for their pivotal role during the COVID-19 pandemic at last week’s graduation ceremony for new recruits in Sydney.

“Just last Friday the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, declared at a special event for new recruits at the Sydney Cricket Ground that NSW would not have survived the last 12 to 18 months if it was not for every single man and woman of the NSW Police Force,” he said.

“We believe we have a compelling case for a fair and reasonable pay increase and have prepared a strong concluding submission.

“Our submission reflects the value of the work that the serving police officers perform across this state every day.”

The dispute affects about 17,000 serving police officers across NSW, the union says.

Five days of Industrial Relations Commissions hearings have so far taken place over the pay dispute – August 13, October 6-8 and November 13.

The final hearing before the commission is set down for next Friday, December 18.

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