WA police officers have been ordered to stop all industrial action by the state’s Industrial Relations Commission in an increasingly bitter pay fight.
The WA Police Union and commissioner of police went into an urgent conference at the state’s Industrial Relations Commission on Wednesday evening with officers subsequently ordered to stop all action.
“Given the concerns held by the commission about the impact of the ongoing industrial campaign, the cost to the community and the public interest, orders were made this evening requiring the Union and its police officer members to cease all industrial action by 12.00pm Thursday,” it said in a statement released Wednesday night.
The commission has also ordered the union have restored access to the WA Police computer and communications system so it can talk to members during the ongoing bargaining process.
Both parties are to report back to the WAIRC by October 6 on the prospect of a new pay deal.
Tensions came to a head on Tuesday when the union announced it would ramp up action by having all members attend life-threatening incidents only.
Within hours, Police Commissioner Chris Dawson issued a legal directive ordering his officers to resume normal duties.
The Union then sent out an urgent missive telling members to comply but to keep on with limited industrial action already underway.
Ahead of the meeting at the WAIRC, Mr Dawson said the union’s actions were disappointing and disturbing as they would have compromised public safety, given lower priority incidents regularly escalated to more serious situations.
“This should never have happened,” he told reporters.
“I will not let them control and manage where police officers go.
“They have overstepped the line.”
Union president George Tilbury unrepentant.
Saying the union had decided to escalate industrial action one month ago and expected it would be short-lived but wanted to shock the government as talks were going nowhere.
That was despite the union being prepared to accept trade-offs in conditions.
“We were well within our right to take the action,” he said.
“It was only a matter of time before we rolled it out.”
The union has rejected a capped $1000 pay rise for all public sector workers and demands at least a 1.5 per cent increase, with Mr Tilbury saying “the sky’s the limit” if the matter goes to arbitration.
Premier Mark McGowan lashed the union’s leadership, saying they went “rogue” and their actions were “irresponsible and reckless”.
“The police union’s leadership potentially compromised public safety and provided a green light to drunk drivers, drug dealers and criminals,” Mr McGowan said.
He said the offer was fair and should be accepted, given WA’s dire state finances.
But Mr Tilbury said it was “resoundingly unfair” as regional officers would suffer a net $560 loss after losing a government subsidy, while firefighters had secured a 1.5 per cent pay rise.