Police unions reach agreement with minister on pay and working conditions

Police unions reach agreement with minister on pay and working conditions
Credit: Belga

Police unions VSOA and NSPV reached an agreement on Friday with Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden regarding pay and working conditions, after months of oftentimes frustrating negotiations.

The agreement includes “a substantial improvement of the status of the more than 48,000 police officers,” according to a press release from the office of Verlinden.

“For the first time since the creation of the Integrated Police in 2001, a structural pay increase will be implemented, on average by 5%, and career opportunities and working conditions will be improved.”

Police had gone two decades without a pay raise, and referred to offers from previous negotiations – such as an extra €35 – as being insultingly low, especially in the context of increases in violence against police, the added responsibility of enforcing unpopular coronavirus measures and difficulty recruiting new officers related to both.

Caption: Brussels 23.01.2022 – demonstration against coronavirus measures: 3 policemen injured during the riots and police vehicles damaged. Unacceptable!

Difficulty attracting new police officers

“After 20 years of stagnation, this interim agreement contributes to making the police more attractive,” said Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden.

“By improving pay and working conditions, we explicitly value the work of the police and motivate all police officers to continue their work with great expertise and drive.”

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Verlinden conceded that expectations of the police have increased significantly: “The tasks of the police have become more complex and the psychosocial pressure on the police officers has increased.”

She said that investments will be made towards making the career path more attractive, hoping to boost dwindling recruitment numbers with a goal of adding 1,600 inspectors annually.

Credit: Helen Lyons/ The Brussels Times

Terms of the agreement

The agreement reached with unions calls for pay increases, including for civilian staff and those in specialised function.

Many officers will receive a net pay increase of €140 per month.

Vaguer promises include that “a better work-life-balance and a flexible career will be further pursued in the years to come.”

Before the new agreement can enter into force, the interim agreement will be further explained and converted into regulations, with a target date for entry into force of 1 January, 2023.

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