19 March 2024

Slogans on cars, blocking speed cameras: Police union votes on action

| Claire Fenwicke
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Victoria Police car with slogans

ACT Policing vehicles could soon bear slogans – similar to what’s been seen by Victoria Police (pictured) – after union members voted for protected industrial action. Photo: Supplied / The Police Association of Victoria.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) union members – including ACT Policing officers – have overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action in light of frustrations over pay and conditions negotiations.

Action is set to begin on Friday, 22 March.

They’re locked in to an 11.2 per cent increase over three years, which AFPA representatives have argued is a result of the “restrictiveness” of non-APS bargaining parameters and the Commonwealth’s Public Sector Workplace Relations Policy 2023 leaving them “hamstrung” when it comes to trying to get new allowances.

Union members voted on 36 potential actions which range from putting slogans on AFP vehicles and uniforms and blocking mobile speed vans, to not attending court matters, not transporting alleged offenders, and not investigating any referrals to the AFP from the offices of politicians where no offence has been committed.

The protected industrial action ballot returned a 96.73 per cent ‘Yes’ vote from 3211 members.

“This result sends an extremely strong message to the Federal Government and Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) that AFPA and AFP members are prepared to take action to get better workplace conditions and wages than those currently on offer,” AFPA president Alex Caruana said.

“These members should not be treated the same as traditional public servants and should not be consigned a blanket pay rise which doesn’t properly remunerate them as serving police officers.”

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The union has argued the psychological and physical risks that police officers are exposed to each day mean they should not be consigned to the same pay and conditions as other public servants.

“Do other public servants get shot at? Do other public servants get assaulted for doing their job? What other public servants have their decisions and integrity scrutinised as heavily as AFP members do?” Mr Caruana asked.

“These are questions that the Federal Government knows the answer to, but chooses to ignore.”

He also pointed out that AFP officers were the lowest base-paid police officers in the country which was making recruitment and retention difficult.

“These are the same members who protect Parliament House, the same members who would take a bullet for the Prime Minister and other politicians and the same members who will be tasked with protecting AUKUS assets and infrastructure now and into the future,” Mr Caruana said.

“For the AFP to recruit the best and brightest, it needs to be competitive in the market. Today, every other police service can say it pays a better base wage to members starting their careers than the AFP does.”

Assurances have been given to the community that their safety will not be put at risk due to the protected industrial action options on the table.

Mr Caruana said AFPA members would still respond to incidents and would not be forming picket lines.

“That is not how we operate. Community safety will remain a priority,” he said.

“We encourage all members to continue to work to the best of their ability, and if a safe opportunity arises where protected industrial action could be employed, then we will consider it.”

The union will be required to give notice ahead of any planned action.

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Region sought comment from Senator Katy Gallagher’s office in her capacity as Public Service Minister, which was referred to the Attorney-General’s office (as the AFP sits under his portfolio).

It was suggested comment should instead be sought from the AFP, given negotiations are occurring between that outfit and the union.

An AFP spokesperson said bargaining had been occurring between the organisation, the union, the CPSU and other independent bargaining representatives since September 2023, and it intended to keep “working constructively” to reach a resolution.

“The AFP remains intent on going to a vote for a new enterprise agreement before the 25 May 2024,” they said.

“The AFP has put in place contingency plans to ensure there are no disruptions to operational capability, and no impacts to community safety.”

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Love the caption to the photo on this story, whoever wrote it might have come from the ABC: “ACT Policing vehicles could soon bare slogans – “

Having our Federal police force, our version of the FBI, as the lowest-paid police force in the country shows how asininely we are governed, how those who have been running our country are not fit for purpose.

The AFP (the Feds) have the unique authority to investigate ANYONE in the country, including the PM, including the GG, which means we expect the best, brightest AND those with impeccable integrity serving in the AFP. You do not get that when you pay low wages.

It is also well-known that money is the easiest way to corrupt someone. Which is why you can get a high-level security clearance with a criminal record, but you might struggle if you’ve committed financial fraud or some other form of larceny. So underpaying the federal police force would be the ultimate in stupidity.

And yet here we are.

There’s a lot of anger in the sworn ranks, so it’s good to see the union finally listening and taking the lead on industrial action. We need a strong AFP, with integrity right through the ranks. Damage has been done, this is the first step toward repairing decades of neglect.

I’ve worked both sides of the fence and ACT Policing is understaffed and under resourced – almost 250 less than in 2000 despite the growth in our population. Their City Police Station is a disgrace and dangerous to OH&S. Barr ignored requests from the CPO for 2 years leaving the CPO no choice but to close the station. As for pay – police are paid about 25% less than APS who enjoy a relatively stress-free and airconditioned environment. APS get to clock off/lex off at 4.51pm having faced the dangers of a paper cut or stapler backfire. Then compare the level of internal/external review and various levels of scrutiny police are subjected compared to the APS which preaches accountability and transparency but practices neither. And despite the negative sooky comments from some, as always police will continue to put the safety of their community first, regardless of their pay and conditions. Bear in mind that the last time police threatened soft industrial action was over 25 years ago. They eventually saw a pitiful pay rise that resulted hundreds of experienced police leaving. Our police deserve better.

The AFP has the highest paid Police Commissioner of all the Police Forces and the lowest paid uniformed constabulary. All Police Forces including the AFP are actively recruiting and trying to garner experience from other Police Forces including from overseas. Who would want to come to the AFP/ACT Policing if they are the lowest paid. When was the last time you saw a Police patrolling your suburb. Those that are on the road in the ACT cannot get out to other areas quick enough. Also note to the author – get it right and use a picture of ACT Policing not Victoria Police. I mean really!

@Ian Douglas
“… get it right and use a picture of ACT Policing not Victoria Police”

At first, I thought it was the typical sloppy editing, with photos, that we often see in RiotACT. Then I read the caption to the photo – ‘ACT Policing vehicles could soon bare slogans – similar to what’s been seen by Victoria Police (pictured) …’.

Apart from the spelling error (‘bare’ not ‘bear’) I think they have got it totally right.

As an ex sworn member of the AFP with 10yrs in the ACT, and a Unionist, my reaction is that this list is pretty radical. In fact so radical that I laughed out loud at some of the points. The AFP has a PR nightmare in the ACT. It is not held in high regard due to a number of utter stuff ups (er what does it take to charge for an alleged sex offence) by ACT based officers. I am almost inclined to say maybe time for the NSW Police to bid for the work. It could be argued that management on occasions look very amateurish and stand over like, now we have the Association following the same model. Here is a tip, get the public behind you, get some respect back by doing a first rate job, demand better leadership. Sadly the old saying of “Village Police” is back.

Rubbish. I don’t know where you worked but saying ‘village people’ suggests you were national and not frontline policing. You are out of touch as ACT Policing is well respected and liked here in the ACT.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart3:11 pm 18 Mar 24

Well that’s interesting. I had an AFP officer threaten (but not follow through) to charge me with “hindering a territory official” when I blocked a mobile speed camera van, but apparently it’s OK for them to do it. I thought the threat was pretty hollow at the time and the charge wouldn’t stand up in court. Well, now they’ve given me a precedent that it’s not an offence to block a speed camera van after all. Thanks AFP!

I think the planned sitting before speed camera vans would be 100meters or so, so people can clearly see the police car with flashing lights then notice the speed camera to slow down.

Not blocking actively blocking the speed camera from doing their job. To be honest if you get caught by them, you deserve double the penalty they stick out that much.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart9:40 pm 18 Mar 24

If that is the case, that it also a useful precedent for me as, after the incident I mentioned, I moved my waving of an “abolish speed cameras” sign to across the road from the speed camera vans…somewhere where I can’t be obstructing the view of the van but can still make my point. The van operators don’t like it, but I have noticed that my activity tends to slow traffic more than the vans do, so if the aim of the vans is to slow traffic, then I would argue that I am helping them and not hindering them. Police slowing traffic around a speed camera van is much the same thing, legally speaking, in my view.

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