Sanctus – Labour Secretary Jessica Scott is to today announce new legislation in parliament that will remove the ban on police officers being able to form and join trade unions. The move, which was a part of the Democratic Left Party’s election manifesto back in 2018, had been held up for the past numbers of years while the Attorney General’s office undertook reviews.
Until now, police officers, both federal and state, have been forbidden from forming unions or joining a union to advance their causes as it had previously been considered to be deeply inappropriate for the guardians of the state’s citizens to take political positions, particularly when they have to enforce those political decisions when and if they become law.
Under the plans to be announced today, sworn officers of the Sanctarian Federal Police, as well as officers in the state police forces, will be able to form trade unions, join existing trade unions, and elect union officials. Only these elected union officials will be permitted to join the Register of Lobbyists. It’s further understood, however, the ban on police officers taking part in protests and marches, whether they are off-duty or not, will not be lifted “in the interests of public safety”, according to one source.
Police officers will also for the first time be able to officially go on strike – prior to this, organised “sick days” were held to informally protest at pay, benefits, or treatment of police officers in general by the government – but the Justice Secretary will be able to heavily restrict those strike conditions to ensure minimum staffing. Police officers will, in keeping with the ban on protests and marches, not be permitted to form a picket, however. Their right to strike only ensures the federal government, state governments, or their superiors in their forces, will not be able to retaliate through dismissal, including constructive dismissal, or other punitive measures.
Relatedly, Scott is also expected to confirm that, on advice of the Attorney General, the ban on members of the Sanctarian Defence Forces from forming or joining unions will remain in force.
NATHAN MAY, Industry Affairs Correspondent