Monday, August 3, 2015 - 09:35
Police, in contract dispute, start refusing non-urgent calls
The police unions are calling on police officers to only respond to urgent, life threatening calls on Monday in another effort to pressure Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice into a better collective bargaining agreement for the police. During this "no emergency, no police" action, the police will only respond to so-called priority one and two calls, such as life-threatening situations and traffic accidents. People calling about incidents with a lower priority, such as vandalism or nuisance, will be told that the police are protesting for a fair collective bargaining agreement and no action will be taken. Officers can use their own judgement to respond to calls that are not urgent, but still need police intervention. This action will run for seven weeks. During this week, the action will only take place on Monday, but it will be extended by one day each week. So by week seven, the police will not be responding to non-urgent calls all week. "The action can be stopped at any time if Minister Van der Steur comes with an acceptable collective bargaining offer that gives enough justification for the unions to resume negotiations", the unions write. On Saturday a spokesperson for the Minister said that it is incomprehensible that the unions are ignoring the recently reached collective bargaining agreement for civil servants and refuse to enter discussion, AD reports. According to Van der Steur, the agreement shows appreciation for the "good work of police women and men who stand ready for society 24 hours" a day. The agreement includes a 5 percent wage increase for the about 600 thousand civil servants and a once-off bonus of 500 euros. The unions responded by saying that the Minister knows very well why the police will be protesting again on Monday. According to the unions, the Minister keeps "hammering on the 'extra money' that the government committed for a structural salary increase of 5.05 percent", but neglects to mention that no additional money has been set aside for other important issues. According to the unions, only 2,85 percent of the 5.05 percent is actual extra money for wage increases. The other 2.20 percent consist money that the employer would have otherwise spent in other ways, such as on pension contribution for staff. "The facts are thus totally different from the rosy picture presented by the Minister and the Cabinet. As long as they refuse to take as step which will make serious negotiations possible, the actions of the police unions will continue unabated", the unions write. "The goal remains the same: to force the politicians to show more appreciation for police work, both through proper compensation and a responsible personnel policy in general."