PFNI: ‘Keep strike action proportionate and lawful’

The chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland is appealing to workers taking part in Thursday’s strike action to act in a “proportionate and lawful” manner.

Jan 16, 2024
By Paul Jacques
PFNI chair Liam Kelly

It comes after one trade union leader suggested civil disobedience, such as blocking roads and occupying buildings, could be the pay dispute’s next step.

Liam Kelly says any such action would inevitably result in additional strain on hard-pressed police officers.

Teachers, health workers and civil servants are among thousands of workers across Northern Ireland who are to take part in what is expected to be one of the biggest strikes in recent history over pay.

Mr Kelly said: “Our officers are also public sector employees who have been waiting some five months for a pay award to be signed off.

“They understand only too well the challenges facing public sector colleagues and fully sympathise with them in their attempt to right a wrong.

“By law, it is illegal for police officers to strike, but their absence on a picket line shouldn’t be misinterpreted. They, too, are angry, frustrated and dismayed by the actions of the Secretary of State and his Northern Ireland Office colleagues who are using public sector pay as a blunt way of bludgeoning and bullying for political ends.

“The Government is behaving disgracefully by employing such tactics against workers. Civil disobedience has been suggested including the possibility of blocking roads and occupying buildings to hammer home the message.

“I would appeal to all workers to resist such calls. Any such action would inevitably place an additional strain on policing at a time when our officers least need the pressure.”

Mr Kelly added: “Strike action and any associated protest must be conducted both proportionately and lawfully.

“Police officers are the emergency service of first and last resort, so it’s reasonable to expect that such large-scale industrial action will result in a hefty increase in calls for police assistance.

“There’s still time for the Secretary of State to avert this massive, unprecedented strike. I would urge him to release the funds to address all public sector pay awards immediately and do what’s required to prevent Northern Ireland descending into a state of total chaos.”

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