Garda bodies reject payroll cuts
Senior gardai will 'vociferously' oppose any proposals to cut the pay bill, the AGSI said.
Public service trade unions met this afternoon to take stock of current talks with Government representatives aimed at securing an extension to the Croke Park agreement.
The Government is seeking to generate savings of some1 billion on its pay and pensions bill over the next three years. It wants to make savings of €300 million this year.
Public service management has suggested that it wants to put in place cuts to pay for high earners, premium payments and increments as well as introducing a longer working day.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors – which is not part of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions – has already withdrawn from the talks process. AGSI said today it would “vociferously” object to any plans to cut the Garda payroll bill by a reported tens of millions of euro over the next three years.
Separately, the Garda Representative Association said its members had told it “loudly and clearly, that they cannot accept any further reduction in garda pay nor can they accept a reduction in the terms and conditions of their employment contracts”.
The central executive committee of the Garda Representative Association is to meet early next week at which the menu of cost-cutting measures and changes to working practices would be outlined. “Gardaí are facing great financial hardship while continuing to provide great dedication and commitment to the community,” said GRA president John Parker.
"Our members cannot pay their loans and mortgages. This is not about choice; pay cuts are not an option."
Speaking today, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said no decision had yet been made on cuts. “In common with every part of the public sector, a range of payroll savings measures are being discussed with associations representing members of An Garda Síochána," he said. “The talks are at an early stage and I would encourage all the Public Service Unions and staff associations to engage constructively in the dialogue being facilitated by the Labour Relations Commission. I do not intend to make any public comment on the substance of the talks as I do not believe such comment can constructively contribute to the process.”
Eerlier, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan sought to play down any possible confrontation with Garda unions over payroll cuts, saying such cuts are still a matter for discussion and nothing has yet been finalised.
The management proposals are understood to include cuts in overtime, premium payments and holiday payments. Garda management wants each officer to work an extra hour a day, in line with changes introduced for other public servants. In addition, it was reported the Department of Justice is preparing a proposal on incentivised career breaks with a view to rapidly reducing garda numbers. The savings from such a scheme would not count towards the proposed payroll savings.
But speaking in Charleville in Co Cork this morning, where he addressed a conference on small- and medium-sized enterprises, Mr Noonan said any such proposals were a matter for discussion and would not be imposed unilaterally by the Government.
"What’s happening at the moment right across the public service is that Minister [for Public Expenditure and Reform] Brendan Howlin is engaged with the unions particularly the public services unions to do a second phase of Croke Park and the target savings over three years are about €1 billion
"And it is in that context that additional savings on the garda budget which are nominated this morning are on the table but they are a matter for discussions - there's nothing categoric about this and it’s not being imposed unilaterally by the Minister," Mr Noonan. "This is a menu of items for discussion at the talks and the talks are proceeding reasonably satisfactory but of course they are a long way from conclusion but there’s good will on both sides but it’s in national interest that we live within our means."