Garda bodies reject payroll cuts
Mr Noonan said that he was encouraged by comments by AGSI general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, John Redmond, which suggested to him that Mr Redmond and his organisation were still willing to engage in discussion despite their withdrawal from talks on an extension to the Croke Park agreement.
Mr Redmond had earlier said his members would “absolutely” oppose plans to cut the payroll bill and to increase the working day. He did not rule out industrial action.
“When we were given these proposals we were shocked by the complexity and the wide-ranging proposals which meant nothing except cuts for our members,” Mr Redmond said. Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said that as far back as 2008 and 2009, his members had among the first who had “committed to putting our shoulders to the wheel” and to play their part as far as necessary provided everybody else did the same thing”.
Asked if his members were saying “no more” to cuts, Mr Redmond said: “Absolutely. Our members have told us that they can’t take any more. They’ve taken 25 per cent cuts – this represents a 7 per cent cut across the board and our members are at the pin of their collar to pay their bills at the moment.”
Mr Redmond said his members had just nine months ago changed from working an eight-hour day to a 10-hour day. Most of those officers had to buy homes away from the main centres where they worked, and were also commuting for up to two or three hours a day, he said. They also worked in the middle of the night and at times that people in “regular jobs” were relaxing in their homes.
Mr Redmond said he had no doubt there were lots of savings that could be made across many areas of the public service generally. His organisation had always felt the €80 million Garda overtime budget could be cut and should be looked at, he said. “Our members don’t have an option when it comes to overtime. You don’t just walk in and decide you want to come into work on overtime. You are told that you are needed to carry out particular duties on overtime.”
On the Taoiseach’s statement that the Government would, if necessary, legislate to save the money, Mr Redmond said:
“We are absolutely against what the Taoiseach says about legislation. I think it’s unfair and disingenuous for the Taoiseach to shake a big stick over our members who have given so much.”
He said it would be in breach of the existing Croke Park agreement if the Government sought to unilaterally change the terms his members had signed up to.
There was nothing his members could do to prevent legislation, but they would “not be happy” and “will make their feelings known and known very vociferously to government if that should take place”, Mr Redmond said. “Absolutely we will oppose it, of course we will.”
Asked if this would include industrial action, he said: “Perhaps.”