I was a cop when the 40% pay offer came about in the 1970s. We had balloted nationally on strike action (56% and 70% in favour in the sticks and Met as I remember). The police had traditionally been underpaid in the UK, much as our squaddies get about half the pay of their Aussie counterparts now. The lads a few girls out in Afghanistan get a whole lot less in pay and conditions such as pensions, than that rude, pretty ignorant response officer straight from the training centre who is about as much use on your problems as a chocolate fire-guard in a forest fire. The force I joined paid me 10% more than I’d have got as a Civil Service executive officer plus a rent allowance. Pay had been so dire in the 1960s that police ranks generally only swelled when unemployment did.
There’s a lot of dishonesty around about public sector pay and the burden this and conditions of service place on the rest of us. My guess is that we could do with far more low-level public sector jobs because the current capitalist-private sector model of growth has been screwed for at least two decades, and that we need to strip the public sector of a whole wad of hidden costs in the form of pension entitlements and high wages paid to wasters in supposedly important management jobs. The current headline figure on pensions is that they cost us £4,000 a year each to support. I’d encourage everyone to look at the percentage costs Crime Analyst comes up with on the bloated rank excesses in the police. He won’t be far wrong and would not be a penny out if given full access.
As a jaded management theorist and consultant (I don’t do any now on personal moral grounds), I can’t help but notice the similarities in our public sector now and stuff like the shipbuilding and steel industries in the past. In the United States in particular I remember steel group workers ensuring their own destruction by insisting their companies take proper care of pensioners, ensure H & S at work and decent pay competitive with that of white collar jobs around them. This sensible self-interest and even morally inspired action was lunacy in the world conditions being brought to bear by our “capitalist masters”. The reasons the jobs upped and fucked off were more complex than cheap wages elsewhere, but the key problem was that we were ‘stupid enough’ to want to build the capital of lives worth living. One underlying idea was that we could let these ‘dumb jobs’ go abroad and do something smarter, thus increasing our standard of living whilst others abroad did the scut-work. Take a look at any of the BBC programmes in which they let some of our kids fish for tuna or work in Indonesian factories or the Mumbai slums and you’ll get the drift. Given the choice between a ‘copper’s lot’ and that we wouldn’t find many trying to sign up for the skip jack tuna boat. The moral assertion to most of my age not eating their greens as a kid was being told ‘millions of starving Indians’would relish them.
Old big industry across the West and whatever worker power there once was has been broken on the rod of Thatcherism, though old Madiron herself had little to do with it. Our industries had been in recession for more than a hundred years in many cases and the imposition of hard-hat, often ex-pat, severely overpaid management dates from the 1960s. It’s a long story and not well known.
Manchester United players get obscene pay. I can’t justify any excesses like this. That’s another story. What we don’t find in sport is all levels of teams being paid like the ones at the top. This has happened across our political and management cadre. At United I guess they have to pay up up or their ‘dedicated to the club’ players will just up sticks. The claim that we’d suffer a similar ‘brain’ drain if we don’t pay an under-performing cop (etc. across the public sector) who has ferreted his way into an SMT by image management is farcical. So, probably, is the the idea that the best will only work for top money, and this idea is never discussed in terms of potential demotivation of the rest of us. Pay systems drawing support from the trade in top international sportspeople look doomed as a model for the rest of us.
I suspect the majority of cops and middle class people generally have little idea of how well paid they have become compared with industrial workers around the world or how artificial many of their jobs are. I suspect that hitting our police with delayering and job re-evaluation aimed at the kind of efficiencies achieved in manufacturing would lead them to strike action. What a bunch of miners!
Believing we were treated with disdain in the 1970’s pay negotiations, we did stuff like slipping copies of the Canadian strike to the media. Militant sabre-rattling brought about the new offer. Since then,cops have been politicised beyond belief and treated as favoured sons. They should be asked to produce an increase of 50% in ‘street time’ whilst increasing personnel numbers by 20% and decreasing staffing costs by 20% including on-costs of such matters as pensions. This may seem impossible to the (genuinely) managerially untrained. Better than this has been achieved in industry.
Something like this needs doing across the public sector and it would include stopping people acting like the ‘filthy rich’. My GP practice is just about as good as it could be, and I doubt this has much to do with bloated earnings potentials that have doubled doctor’s pay compared with academics. For all the support of our heroic troops in cop blogs, no one offers to take a squaddy’s pay and give the rest to a forces’ charity.
Some of the maths of my thought experiment here are very simple. Get rid of 42 sets of post superintendent ranks and you save a lot. How many extra cops would that be? Drop PC pay to job centre average and how much do you save. We might have to help cops with their mortgages for a while, but we do this all over with tax credit anyway. Are cops supposed to be so different from the public the “serve”?
No doubt this won’t be popular amongst cop-blog groupies, but we are already seeing compulsory redundancies in Town Halls. My academic interest in such thought experiment is really to question whether our systems of reward generally are now ‘for the Fairies’. Cops who don’t know anything about the post WW1 police strikes, or police roles in suppressing miners’ strikes may need to do a little history.
Control of expenditure in our legal system in out of it. Look what it cost to lie about Bloody Sunday fro 38 years and then blame it all on a bunch of panicking Paras. Some scrote drug-dealer pleads not guilty and another £40K goes down the drain on average. Cops end up carrying the undercover cameras they so despise when Panorama embarrasses then as racists with one, in order to encourage more guilty pleas. How long before chummy (no doubt via scuzzy lawyers wanting business back) starts coming up with ‘orange juice WMD’ excuses like the whack and slap Sgt.Smellie in the face of CCTV.
It’s probably fatuous in the end, but we can make a case that overpaying our police rather than spreading earnings more equitably amongst those who will work, with a Bill of Rights ensuring work to all, causes most crime.
We need to be thinking the unthinkable because our system has gone dud. One in nine Scots were working for the banks before the crash and our public sector economy is 70% in some places. 75% of all jobs round here created over the last 10 years are public sector (NW). The scrote who lived, harassed, drugged and violenced next door cost £15K a year in benefits and another £30K in agency visits, prison and other administrative costs, much going to barristers and into public sector workers’pockets. They have been re[placed by excellent Bulgarians, but continue elsewhere. We should be asking whether the more than seven years of failure to sort them out and admit all the agencies are without a clue is itself criminal. Maybe the bloated public sector and rich barrister types are the real thieves, claiming money by deception as surely as MPs creaming expenses? The scrote, for all their nuisance and violence, still remain poor. This is not true of the army that feeds off them.
I say all this under the strenuous working conditions of watch Switzerland beat Spain, unless there’s a last minute development. Life is hard and then you die!