WA Premier Mark McGowan slams police union over pay dispute

Stock image.
Stock image.

PREMIER Mark McGowan has accused the WA Police Union’s leadership of going “rogue” following a short-lived escalation of industrial action over a long-running pay dispute.

Mr McGowan was scathing of the union’s leadership, claiming Tuesday’s three hour-long action, the third phase of a campaign that began in June, was “irresponsible, unnecessary and reckless”, and accused them of giving a “green light to drunk drivers and drug dealers”.

The pay dispute over the state government’s capped $1000 pay increase, which compares to the previous government’s 1.5 per cent wage deal, has been sent back to WA’s Industrial Relations Commission.

The union told members on Tuesday to only leave stations or sections to attend priority one or two incidents then return straight to their posts.

But newly appointed Police Commissioner Chris Dawson swiftly issued a directive ordering all officers to perform normal duties, saying the proposed action had the potential to affect community safety, and the union sent out an urgent missive telling members to comply.

However, other action is continuing including only signing on for duty at rostered start times, undertaking equipment and vehicle checks at the start of shifts and using discretion to issue cautions instead of fines for traffic and liquor offences.

Police are angry that the new WA government, elected in March, is capping all public service pay increases at $1000, instead of honouring a promise to stick to the previous government’s 1.5 per cent wage deal.

Opposition police spokesman Peter Katsambanis said police were suffering uncertainty and disenchantment “all because the premier has reneged on a promise he made to them during the election campaign”.

“It’s simply wrong for the Premier to hide behind the police commissioner and force the commissioner to find all sorts of ways to make police toe the government line,” Mr Katsambanis said.

“Very few West Australians would begrudge our police officers this modest 1.5 per cent pay rise.”

The action would have been the third phase since the union’s campaign began in June.