GRA to meet over pay cuts plan
Members of the Garda Representative Association are meeting to discuss what action the group should take if pay cuts proposed in a new Croke Park deal are implemented.
The leaders of the largest body representing members of An Garda Síochána are preparing for a two-day meeting at which ways rank and file gardaí could respond to proposed pay cuts will be discussed.
The national executive of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) will meet tomorrow in the wake of a number 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.
At some of those meetings in Garda divisions around the State in the past fortnight, proposals to take industrial action have been voted on and carried. However, the results of those votes at local level are not binding and do not represent new policy by the organisation.
The outcome of the local meetings will be outlined at the meeting of the GRA’s national executive by the respective executive members for those local areas.
However, despite media reports to the contrary, the GRA executive meeting tomorrow and Thursday has not been specially convened to discuss possible industrial action in light of Government proposals for pay cuts under as part of the extension to the Croke Park agreement.
The national executive of the GRA meets on the second Wednesday and Thursday each month, where 31 representatives for Garda divisions nationwide and three representatives from the organisation’s head office debate issues facing their members.
The GRA represents 11,300 rank and file Garda members in the 13,400-strong force.
Informed sources said while the meeting would debate the proposed pay cuts and the mood of its members around the country, it was not a foregone conclusion that there would be any decision about how rank and file gardaí would respond to pay cuts.
A ‘blue flu’ style action, such as that seen in 1998, is regarded as unlikely, though 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.
“You can do what you like at a local meeting and pass whatever motions you like, but deciding on an official national policy for some kind of industrial action is much bigger,” said one informed source.
The latest local meetings of GRA members took place last night in Tipperary, Cork, Kerry and Dublin. There have been similar meetings in recent weeks elsewhere at which votes in favour of industrial action or votes of no confidence in Mr Shatter or Commissioner Callinan have been passed. While there is anger in the force at the proposed pay cuts, many gardaí believe that would not translate into any form of clear industrial action or even a plan to take such action, until such time it became clear a pay cut was likely to be imposed.
“It would need to move way beyond being a proposal, which is what it is at now,” said one source.
The GRA has already followed the example of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors in pulling out of talks on the extension to the Croke Park agreement.
It has been mooted that the Garda force will be required to find €60 million in savings which would come, at least in part, from pay cuts. The GRA and Agsi withdrew from talks saying they would not discuss the issue of pay cuts.