Police in battle over sick leave

REACTION to the State Government's planned overhaul of the police force's disability and death scheme continued over the weekend with police directed not to issue fines for minor offences.

The go-slow industrial action was announced by the Police Association of NSW (PANSW) on Thursday after Police Minister Michael Gallacher announced the Government would tighten the reins on the police force's sick and stress leave scheme.

PANSW suggested its members issue court attendance notices rather than fines for minor offences, such as traffic offences.

This is expected to slow the court system with the influx of court attendance notices and will minimise revenue.

The industrial action will continue until the Government comes to the negotiation table.

Under the new scheme, injured police will have their full salary maintained for six months but then reduced gradually to encourage them to undergo rehabilitation and return to work, Mr Gallacher explained. Under the current scheme, officers received a lump sum pay-out and were eligible for "top-up" payments.

"In 2005 there were 450 officers on long term sick leave which has now increased to 1135 officers, an increase of 152%," Mr Gallacher said.

In the Richmond Local Area Command (LAC) there are 18 vacancies because officers are off sick.

PANSW have slammed the proposal and claimed they received no consultation about the changes.

"The changes to the scheme without consultation of grassroots police is very disappointing," PANSW Lismore branch president Dave Longfield said.

"We do not support any change that erodes the entitlements of serving police, but acknowledge that some changes needed to be made to address current flaws in the system."

"This is a slap in the face for hard-working frontline police, who now patrol the community with an uncertain future."

Mr Gallacher said he was disappointed with the action.