When so much emphasis is being laid on the need for a drop in wage levels to retain the SAR's competitiveness, it is difficult for any sector of the workforce to make out a persuasive case for maintaining the status quo. The disciplined services, however, have one very compelling argument in their favour. Their duties cannot be compared with any area of the private sector. The particular and often difficult conditions under which they work make it essential that this is recognised through their pay and conditions. Calls to include the police, fire services, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Correctional Services Department, Immigration Department, Customs and Excise, and the Government Flying Service in the civil service pay cuts have been increasing in recent weeks. It is unlikely the Standing Committee on Disciplined Services Salaries and Conditions of Service can be entirely impervious to the urgings of some sections of the political and business community. Despite its insistence that members are open-minded on the issue, they have indicated they may consider some adjustment. An adjustment of pay scales across the board is probably inevitable in the coming year. But it will be extremely difficult for the committee to arrive at a decision that could affect the morale and the future recruitment of such vital forces. It is simple enough to define appropriate salaries for civil servants whose worth can be measured against the pay and conditions of those doing the same job on the outside. But, as unions have pointed out, that is not the case here. Apart from the training and qualifications required for the disciplined services, and the importance of being able to attract recruits of the right calibre, they must be offered terms which can keep them loyal to the service and insulated from any attempts to bribe or corrupt them. There is already disquiet over the move to appoint new police officers on contracts, even as an interim measure. And in January, when the maximum pay scale for junior police officers was raised, there were murmurings of discontent from the other disciplined services, as well as the 10,000 police officers who were excluded from the rise. Coming on the heels of that row, any decision to cut wages to the same extent as civil servants could create greater disharmony. It would be out of the question for prison officers to receive less pay than anti-hawking inspectors - as the unions say would happen following a 10 per cent cut in their wage packets. If adjustments are made, they must be kept to a minimum. Staff in this sector are entitled to remuneration packages that encourage the high-quality service society deserves.