Tuesday 27 March 2012

Eyes Wide Shut

Parallels = Same Result

Okay I've digested Winsor 2, but I'd actually read the transcript of conversations that had taken place with The Federation so no real surprises in there for me! So what is happening here and why?

It just so happens, that this week Petrol Tanker drivers have voted to strike. There are some interesting parallels here that need examination. I declare an interest as my old man used to be one, and if I wasn't doing Policing, I would have been living in Essex probably doing the same. I am friends with people who are in Unite and I know what has happened in the past few years in that business.

In my father's day he was employed by an oil company to deliver fuel and oil. He was therefore enrolled into their pension scheme, which was one of the best in the private sector. It is a skilled job and safety is the name of the game as effectively you are driving a potential bomb. The drills are everything and routing, cambers, loading, unloading and entry into delivery sites is taken very seriously, with an expectation to act on near misses reported by the drivers. It has therefore been well paid and "The Company" could well afford it.

About 20 years ago "The Company" then decided to save money and put the delivery side of its business out to contract. Tenders were made and effectively the drivers were off the books and employed by whoever got the 5 year contract. Terms and Conditions changed and the longer service people were either paid off or were offered £20k in compensation to take a 25% pay cut. They were most importantly out of the pension scheme and accrued payments were frozen, and then into an inferior pension with the contract winner, where to benefit they would have to work longer.

Over the years market forces ensured that salary rates stayed low. The staff turnover was higher as people were often attracted elsewhere, and in driving circles petrol delivery still remained better paid so recruitment was never going to be a problem. Although safety is still high on the agenda, safety incidents are I'm told up, as are the resulting dismissals. Had a PollColl recently? Imagine getting a written warning if you are found at fault instead of some points on your police driving record.

A few years back the wages had effectively not increased much and the union stood their ground for a raise in salary. Oil prices were at an all time high as were company profits for oil companies. Media dirty tricks kicked in to paint the drivers as "greedy" yet same job 17 years after conditions changed, only paid the same money as previously? That was some erosion in pay if you were employed on the old terms.

Interesting times ahead for Policing. G4S will now obviously take parts of core policing and see above for what I suspect it means for current police officers. I think I blogged previously that PCSO's would go that way eventually but never thought that would come to warranted officers. Getting police off the Public Sector pension liability is good for the taxpayer and I suspect an experiment for other public services.

Did you used to judge those people on demonstrations when they went on about corporate greed? Maybe their eyes were open!!

If I'm honest I can see why they'd do this. Policing is not the efficient common sense disciplined occupation I joined over 25 years ago. It really is simple put more on relief to deal with what the public want and dispose of the central control and performance monitoring. There's your 20% savings.