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The WA Police Union says Col Blanch APM's appointment as the Commissioner of Police presents an opportunity for a hard reset of the WA Police Force back to an agency that adheres to its core values, most notably care for its employees.
Morale in the WA Police Force is at an all-time low, resignations are on track for a record high year and the latest example of outgoing commissioner Chris Dawson APM exhibiting zero care occurred on Friday when he stood down 16 officers for their failure to comply with WA's vaccine mandates before they expired.
Today, following WA Police Union lobbying, the WA Police Force rescinded those stand-down notices but not before Mr Dawson's summary action, which he took without advising the union, caused unnecessary weekend anguish for families.
In March, the WA Police Union wrote an open letter to Mr Dawson in which it labelled him Commissioner Doesn't Care after he'd gone about forcing transfers, eroding entitlements, rejecting claims, changing rosters, restricting wages, mandating vaccinations and generally disrespecting WA Police Force staff.
Mick Kelly, President of the WA Police Union, congratulates Commissioner of Police-elect Blanch on becoming WA's top cop and urges him to heed the findings of the union's recent well-being survey of its members, uncomplimentary findings his WA Police Force and McGowan Government bosses dismissed contemptuously.
"Incoming commissioner Blanch succeeds Mr Dawson with record numbers of WA Police Union members reporting they're overworked and undervalued by a WA Police Force that doesn't care about their mental health," says Mr Kelly.
"The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people. It's a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear, but the WA Police Union hopes Mr Blanch is one of those rare people because union members – his men and women in blue – are telling anyone willing to listen the WA Police Force is in crisis.
"Never are the WA Police Union and WA Police Force going to agree on everything, but communication, consultation and cooperation are the best ways forward for everyone who has the best interests of the WA community and police at heart.
"The WA Police Union wants to work with Mr Blanch to secure fair and reasonable outcomes that benefit both union members individually and the WA Police Force collectively, starting with an equitable replacement for our expiring industrial agreement that delivers more remuneration, resources and respite to officers.
"Our remuneration claims include recognition of the positive contributions our members have made protecting WA throughout the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 24 months, the negative impacts they've endured toiling under restrictive wages policies over the past five years and their real need to experience real growth in their pay packets, both now and in the future.
"In December, the McGowan Government announced its new public sector wages policy would provide ‘above-CPI wage rises' over the next two years. However, two months ago, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported Perth's year-on-year CPI was +7.6%, 1.6% higher than any other Australian state or territory capital city.
"That's why a 5% pay rise annually is one of our remuneration claims, along with increasing shift allowances, overtime rates and missed meal rates, introducing penalty payments on the significant public holidays of Good Friday and Christmas Day and insuring officers with universal private health cover.
"Our resources claims include recognition of the logistical challenges our members face due to a rostering pattern that's too short. It's impossible for them to plan their lives when they don't know their work hours more than one week in advance.
"And our respite claims include recognition of the need for our members to switch off from their uniquely demanding jobs when they're off duty. The right to disconnect establishes boundaries around the use of employer-to-employee communications outside rostered working hours. It's often looked upon as the individual right of the employee to not only disconnect but also not receive a reprimand for failing to connect or a reward for constantly staying connected."
Established in 1912, our membership consists of more than 7,000 police officers, police auxiliary officers and police cadets from all over the world's largest single police jurisdiction, which covers more than 2.5 million square kilometres. We act as a passionate advocate, lobbying for better conditions and protections on behalf of our members to whom we provide services. We believe there's strength in unity.
Mark Worwood on 0479 187 970 or media@wapu.org.au.