Gardaí should not be given right to strike, report says

Government review calls for new measures to prevent industrial action by Garda members

 Members of An Garda Síochána should not be allowed go on strike, a new Government report has urged. File photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Members of An Garda Síochána should not be allowed go on strike, a new Government report has urged. File photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

 

Members of An Garda Síochána should not be allowed go on strike and new measures should be put in place to stop lower-level industrial action affecting its “essential services”, a new Government report has urged.

The report says Garda associations should not be given the status of normal trade unions, as they had requested, and the force should not be allowed its own method of negotiating pay separate from other public sector workers.

Any moves to allow industrial action “would have a significantly disruptive effect on Garda morale and effectiveness” given the ethos of discipline in An Garda Síochána and its responsibilities for policing, national security and border control.

A working group on industrial relationships within An Garda Síochána was established after a threatened strike in the force last year.

An outline of the report’s initial findings are contained in a memo to be jointly brought to Cabinet on Tuesday by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs Frances Fitzgerald.

The group was set up to examine issues surrounding the granting of access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court to Garda representative associations.

Threatened strike

Such access was granted by the Government last year after the threatened strike by members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI).

While the report says there is no “right to strike” in Irish law, legal protections offered to workers in a “legitimate dispute” are not available to gardaí.

“There are also penalties in the Garda Síochána Acts which could be applied to anyone organising or encouraging industrial action by Garda members. The recommendation from the working group is that the Garda should continue to be constrained from withdrawing their labour in any strike action.

“Every effort should be made to identify and agree processes that will eliminate recourse to ‘lower level’ industrial action on the most essential services provided by An Garda Síochána.”

The GRA and AGSI had pushed to be given trade union status but the working group has also ruled this out. It had also been suggested by the Horgan Report on industrial relations in the force published late last year.

“The view of the working group is that the unique requirement of An Garda Síochána would not be served by reconstituting the Garda associations as trade unions, and that trade union status would generate conflicts with the ability of gardaí to carry out policing duties, particularly in relation to policing protests or trade disputes by unions or with regard to affiliation to Ictu.”

Separate process

In another finding, it rejects calls for pay in An Garda Síochána to be determined in a process separate from other public sector pay deals.

“While the Garda associations would prefer a standalone Garda pay commission, this would not be in keeping with public service pay policy and there is no indication it would deliver different outcomes to the Public Service Pay Commission. ”

It says gardaí should have the “same access to national pay negotiations and to the pay commission as other public servants”.

The working group included senior civil servants, members of Garda management and representatives of the WRC.