Belfast Telegraph

PSNI caves in on High Court steps and pays officers cash they’re owed

By Deborah McAleese

The PSNI agreed to pay money to owed to more than 1,000 police officers affected by a three-month pay freeze minutes before legal action was due to be launched against the force in the High Court.

Pay increments owed to the officers had been suspended in September and this week lawyers for the Northern Ireland Police Federation, the body that represents rank-and-file officers, arrived at the High Court to launch a judicial review of the move, saying it was illegal.

Just before the case was due to start the PSNI — which blamed the increment freeze on the Department of Finance — agreed to pay and backdate all monies owed.

From September, 1,200 officers had been due to receive an increase in their monthly wages through the incremental pay point progression scheme, which allows officers to move up a pay band or scale.

Many constables lost out on at least £100 a month in their pay, with other ranks losing even more, because of the increment freeze, according to the Police Federation.

The Police Federation said that to suspend the pay increments was in breach of legally-binding agreements forged with the Police Negotiating Board — the body that negotiates the pay and terms of conditions for all UK police officers.

But the PSNI said that the money had not been paid because approval for the pay remits had not been received from the Department of Finance and Personnel.

As enforcement of pay growth limits is devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive, the PSNI must submit a business case to the Finance Minister detailing pay proposals even though it follows a nationally determined pay settlement, the PSNI added.

The PSNI said that Finance Minister Sammy Wilson finally gave his approval this week for the payment of the 2012 incremental pay increase for federated and superintendent ranks.

“Approximately 1,200 officers were affected with any arrears due to be be paid to the officers in their January 2013 salary,” a spokeswoman for the PSNI said.

Officers who were affected were furious that the PSNI had failed to pay them what they were owed in the midst of the challenging policing situation in Northern Ireland with the severe terrorist threat, attempts to murder police officers and the strain of policing nightly riots, the Police Federation said.

“I spoke to the Chief Constable in December and he was left in no doubt about our intentions to take legal action if this was not resolved,” said Terry Spence, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland.

“We brought them to the brink and I am now pleased to be able to say they are going to pay these incremental pay points.

“It should not have had to go on this long,” Mr Spence added.

Background

A dispute between the PSNI and 1,200 of its officers over pay has been settled out of court. The union that represents Northern Ireland’s police officers was due to launch legal action after the PSNI failed to pay officers a wage increase that they were entitled to under a pay progression scheme. However, just minutes before the legal challenge was due to be launched this week the PSNI agreed to pay out the owed increments.

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