Police officers will consider it an “act of unforgivable betrayal” if they do not benefit from a lifting of the public sector pay cap, it has been warned.
The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said its members risk being forgotten in public sector pay awards due to the pressure on the police budget.
In September, Police Scotland warned it could be forced to dramatically reduce officer numbers to meet the “significant cost pressure” associated with scrapping the pay cap.
Ahead of a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s justice sub-committee on policing, SPF general secretary Calum Steele said the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) had “little room for manoeuvre” on the issue of wages.
In a written submission, he said: “It is worth highlighting that whilst police pay is not and was not in reality subject to the public sector pay policy, that pay awards have been in line with the policy for each of the last three years. Police officers were also affected by the two-year public sector pay freeze prior to that.
“As the political narrative surrounding the importance of ensuring public sector workers receive fair wage growth has changed significantly in recent months, it is important to ensure that police officers do not find themselves unfairly punished and subjected to the imposition of a de-facto policy of wage stagnation/deflation by the back door.”
He said the “wholly unique” role played by police officers deserved respect.
He added: “Police officers will consider it an act of unforgivable betrayal if at the time wages grow beyond the limits of the historic pay cap for other workers, they are denied the opportunity to secure fair wage growth as a direct consequence of a funding settlement that kills that potential stone dead.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed in September that the 1 per cent cap on public sector pay rises will be removed next year.
In a paper published later that month, Police Scotland said increasing salaries by just 2 per cent would require £26 million of savings to be found – the equivalent of 600 officers.
In a joint submission to the committee, Police Scotland and the SPA said: “The vast majority of costs within the policing budgets relate to people and, as such, the SPA People Committee will apply additional governance to all financial strategy and plans which have people implications.
“Separately, the SPA and Police Scotland will continue their engagement with staff associations and trade unions in relation to financial planning matters through the recently established strategic engagement fora.”