Garda body to meet over pay cuts issue
The leaders of the largest body representing members of An Garda Síochána were this morning due to begin a two-day meeting at which its response to proposed pay cuts will be discussed.
The national executive of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) gathers in the wake of local meetings of its members at which votes of no confidence in Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan have been passed.
Proposals to take industrial action have also been voted on and carried. However, the results of those votes at local level are not binding and do not represent any new policy within the organisation.
The outcome of the local events will be outlined at the meeting of the association’s national executive by the respective executive members for those local areas. The meeting is a planned one and takes place every second Wednesday and Thursday of the month.
The association represents 11,300 rank-and-file Garda members in the 13,400-strong force.
The association’s general secretary, PJ Stone, said the votes taken at local meetings reflected the level of frustration felt by Garda members at the cuts of recent years.
However, he believed it was very important gardaí did not engage in any actions in protest at those cuts that would undermine public support for the force.
“However, it also has to be said that Captain Bligh had a mutiny because he treated his workforce very badly, and there is only so much punishment that people can take before there is an explosion.”
A “blue flu”-style action, such as that seen in 1998, is regarded as unlikely, although a work-to-rule is considered possible by many members.
This would include, among other measures, members not using their own phones, computers or cars for Garda work, as many do.
In 1998 when the “blue flu” took place gardaí rang in sick for a day during a dispute over pay and conditions. It is against the law for Garda members to go on strike, and while better remuneration was secured after the 1998 action, many Garda members believe it seriously damaged the reputation of the force.
The GRA has already followed the example of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors in pulling out of talks on an extension to the Croke Park agreement.