Police officers resoundingly reject 'kick in the guts' government pay offer

The New Zealand Police Association has issued a warning to the Government, saying it will be "embarrassing" if police protest over their new pay agreement.

Members of the association have unequivocally rejected the Government's latest pay offer, eight months after their collective agreement expired.

Officers aren't mincing their words in describing their latest pay offer according to association president Chris Cahill, with some calling it "insulting", "demoralising", "farcical" and an "absolute joke".

While police are unable to take industrial action by law they have given the Government a warning.

"We've got a lot of very angry police officers out there, there's a number of things being suggested - some of them are around protesting. That will be very embarrassing," Cahill said.

Police officers have labelled their latest pay offer a "kick in the guts", "farcical" and an "absolute joke".

According to the Police Association, the offer the coalition Government put on the table last Friday was a $5000 increase to base wages, backdated to November last year. This would be followed by a 4 percent pay rise starting from July next year. 

"To give you an idea a six-year police constable will be earning $22,000 less than a six year nurse or social worker," Cahill told Newshub.

The 4 percent pay increase is still below inflation, which is currently 4.7 percent, while in September last year, inflation was 5.6 percent. 

The rejected pay offer has also led to fears of a brain drain across the ditch, with Cahill saying Australian recruitment lines would've been "red hot since our members heard of this offer last Friday".  

Under their agreements, police officers aren't allowed to walk off the job but Stuff is reporting that other industrial action is being considered. 

This includes "work to rule", which would see officers refuse to work overtime and ensure they take all mandated breaks. This could create major issues in low-staffed areas. 

Cahill said many officers have also revealed the extreme financial pressures they're currently facing, including difficulty and inability to pay rent and mortgages. 

He added officers have also waited patiently for months following the firefighters', nurses' and teachers' salary increases to get an offer, which he says is effectively lower than the Public Service Pay adjustment they rejected last September.  

The offer the previous Labour Government put on the table consisted of a $4000 increase to base salaries backdated to April 2023 and a 4 percent increase in salary from April this year, according to Stuff. 

Cahill said officers now feel abandoned by the Government and Police management. 

"The coalition government sold itself to Kiwis as 'getting tough on crime', introducing legislation such as the gang patch ban which will greatly increase demand on already stretched frontline officers and increase the risks they face," Cahill said.  

"Yet they insult these very officers by intentionally failing to backdate the pay offer that has been delayed by politics and government processes, not officers."  

"The faceless public sector advisors who have recommended this offer to the Minister of Finance have no understanding of the pressure police are facing, or the significant failings in the Police remuneration system that require fixing. Despite having a place at the table, enshrined in legislation, they have chosen not to turn up to negotiations but still place demands on Police that fail to address officers' concerns."  

Association president Chris Cahill has slammed the Government's latest pay offer.
Association president Chris Cahill has slammed the Government's latest pay offer. Photo credit: AM

Cahill has called on Police Minister Mark Mitchell to front up and tell the Minister of Finance Nicola Willis to put an offer on the table that "appropriately compensate officers for the risks they face and the trauma they experience".  

"Police officers care about the communities they serve; the least the government needs to do is demonstrate it cares about their police," he said. 

"A nurse or social worker after 6 years earns $22,000 more than a 6-year police constable. No one thinks nurses are overpaid so why are our police constables underpaid? By the time constables reach the top of their pay band, they will have earned $240,000 less than a nurse." 

The Police Association has called on members to provide feedback in the coming days, with plans to meet with police management next week. 

"The outcome of this meeting will be crucial in deciding our next steps", Cahill said.

PM defends police pay offer 

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon appeared on AM and defended his Government's pay offer.  

"What we are doing is making sure we give police more tools and backing them up and we've seen that in respect to our gang legislation, the illegal guns legislation that we put into Parliament last week, coupled with the work we have on youth offending, along with Section 27 reports, virtual court reporting and the abolishment of the prison targets," Luxon told AM.

"So police know they're going to get backed up by this Government to deal with violent and youth crime that we are seeing across the country." 

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has defended his Government's backing of police.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has defended his Government's backing of police. Photo credit: AM

The Prime Minister denied the claims from the Police Association that the coalition Government's pay offer was the same as what Labour had offered.  

"I disagree, there is an enhanced offer that has been put together by the police, again it's an issue for them to work through with the police association," Luxon said.