18 Apr 2024

Police rejected 'very good offer' - Mark Mitchell

12:15 pm on 18 April 2024
National MP Mark Mitchell

Police Minister Mark Mitchell. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Police Minister Mark Mitchell says the pay offer rejected by police was the best the government could put forward under difficult financial circumstances.

Three-quarters of Police Association members on Wednesday rejected the latest offer, which Mitchell included the overtime rate the union asked for, a $1500 cash payment for members, and a pay increase in the third year.

The Police Association will now ask the mediator to immediately direct negotiations to final offer arbitration.

Mitchell told Morning Report it was almost a quarter of a billion dollars more than was on the table in in August last year.

"We've put our best offer forward.

"For the first time ever we've gone to paid overtime at time-and-a-half.

"We have put forward a very good offer, the best offer that we could put forward under the circumstances. But we respect the outcome."

Mitchell said the government was dealing with a "very difficult and challenging fiscal situation".

It was paying $8.5 billion in interest on debt following borrowing by the previous government, he said.

"We are living beyond our means. If we aren't responsible and if we're not willing to make tough decisions along the way, then our future as a country is pretty bleak."

Police Association president Chris Cahill said members were looking for a sincere effort by the government to address the cost of living crisis and recognise the increasing dangers officers faced.

Cahill told Morning Report the $250m increase reflected that the offer was over three years instead of two. "It's smoke and mirrors, that figure, I'm afraid, it's just not reality."

The "massive rejection" by officers was because the offer failed to address pay having fallen so far behind inflation, and that police officers after six years would earn about 22 percent less than a nurse or a teacher.

"It's really important that we don't fall further behind," he said.