Up to 400 civilian posts within the PSNI will disappear over the next three years, a trade union claimed tonight.
Following discussions with management, Unite criticised plans to either redeploy civilians working in industrial jobs for the PSNI to administrative roles or send them back to the Northern Ireland Civil Service.
Unite also expressed concern that staff who had worked for the PSNI and its predecessor the Royal Ulster Constabulary were not being offered early release financial packages similar to those offered in the North to former police officers, prison officers, members of the Royal Irish Regiment and civilian Ministry of Defence staff in the UK.
The union, which represents most industrial civil service staff, was also concerned about plans to cut back posts in the PSNI’s transport workshop.
Regional Officer Kevin McAdam said: “Our members are being offered pens for spanners or a return to the civil service which is already shedding industrial jobs.
“We were aware that a change was coming, but management seem determined to set up ’PSNI Inc’ at no costs to the organisation.
“There has been no attempt to offer early release packages to those staff who have worked for many hard years supporting policing in Northern Ireland.
“Recognition has been given to police officers, the Royal Irish Regiment, prison officers and the civilian Ministry of Defence staff.
“Yet all our people are being offered is being sidelined to menial jobs until retirements – a new slant on the term natural wastage.”
The police have been anticipating for some time a restructuring of the PSNI to move officers away from administrative roles into frontline policing.
The PSNI employs 134 industrial staff, the majority of whom are seconded from the civil service.
About 80 of these are represented by Unite, while the majority of non-industrial staff are represented by the public service union NIPSA.
However in a statement tonight the PSNI said the anticipated reduction among industrial staff was fewer than 10 posts, all within the transport services section.
“While there will be a small reduction in the number of industrial posts within PSNI it is not anticipated that there will be any redundancies,” the police service said.
“Like the wider public sector the PSNI must live within its means. In the current public spending cycle there will be a reduction in the overall number of support staff posts.
“However the police service anticipate that this reduction will be achieved through natural wastage and by filling vacancies that currently exist.”