Police plan to stop handing out speeding fines as pay dispute stalls

Published by The Age on 31 October 2019

Lead-footed drivers might be in for a treat, as the police union say they will stop issuing fines from December in a campaign for better pay and conditions.

A bitter wage dispute between the Police Association and the Victorian government has reached a stalemate after five months of negotiations.

The government has offered a 2 per cent pay rise,but the union wants twice that plus improved conditions for mental health support, career progression and job safety.

"It's a package deal this claim," Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said outside Melbourne Town Hall.

Mr Gatt labelled the state's offer as "insulting", especially after Daniel Andrews became the country's highest paid premier in September, when he got a 12 per cent pay rise which took his salary to $441,000 a year.

About 100 police and protective service officers met at Melbourne Town Hall on Thursday to sign a protective action ballot to lodge with the Fair Work Commission.

If the ballot is approved, about 17,200 unionised police officers will start industrial action targeting the state's coffers by refusing to issue speed tickets. Mr Gatt stressed the action would not undermine public safety.

"We’ll leave the revenue-raising to the government during a period of industrial action, we’ll focus on community safety."

Industrial action was the last resort he said with negotiations at an impasse and the current enterprise bargaining agreement expiring on November 30.

"We remain open to negotiating in good faith with the government but the clock is ticking," Mr Gatt said.

"Do the responsible thing and get this job done so we can get on with keeping the community safe."

Opposition police spokesman David Southwick welcomed the union's action and called on the Premier to meet their demands.

"It is harder than ever in terms of being a police officer with police getting bashed just by doing their job," he said.

Mr Andrews said the government had made "significant progress" with the negotiations.

"I value the work that every single member of Victoria Police does. They put themselves in harm's way to keep the rest of us safe," he said.

"We value that and we are making very good progress in relation to their enterprise bargain, not by having negotiations in front of the cameras or at press conferences."

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said he would put forward a motion to tighten laws to protect police horses, slapping a 12-month prison sentence on protesters who assault police horses.