Garda protests against Croke Park to go on

TEEU to back deal but higher civil servants urged to oppose the proposed measures

PJ Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association protesting against propsed cuts in pay outside Leinster House today. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

PJ Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association protesting against propsed cuts in pay outside Leinster House today. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Wed, Mar 20, 2013, 21:01

Organisations representing gardaí have pledged to continue their protests against cuts to members’ earnings under the proposed new Croke Park agreement.

However the Technical, Electrical and Engineering Union (TEEU) is to urge its 1,500 members in the public service to vote in favour of the new Croke Park deal. It had opposed the first Croke Park agreement.

The Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS) said it was recommending its members to emphatically reject the new Croke Park proposals.

Meanwhile the union representing national teachers , the INTO, said the Department of Education had provided new clarifications on how the substitution and supervision scheme in schools would operate in future.

It said the proposals provided that teachers would work extra hours under the scheme, and that its coverage would be expanded to include substitution for a number of different types of absence such as all uncertified sick leave and official school business absences, as well as the first day of each absence for certified sick leave, death in family leave, force majeure leave and illness in family leave.

“To facilitate the putting in place of these arrangements, it is the Department's intention that, rather than implementing all of the additional coverage at once in September 2013, this coverage should be implemented in two phases.”

“Cover for uncertified sick leave (first and second level) and official school business absences (second level) would be implemented from the start of the 2013/14 school year, and the remaining absence types from the start of the 2014/15 school year.”

Around 30 members of the executives of the Garda Representative Association (GRA)and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) took part in a protest outside Leinster House on Wednesday lunchtime.

The general secretary of the AGSI John Redmond said his members would go as far as was needed to protect their pay.

GRA general secretary PJ Stone said his executive was trying to keep a lid on the situation but that members wereextremely annoyed.

He said it could not be fair that a senator earning €65,000 would lose €600 under the new Croke Park proposals but young gardaí earning around €40,000 would lose €2,500.

Mr Redmond said his organisation believed the existing Croke Park agreement remained inplace until the middle of 2014 and it would take whatever legal action was necessary to protect its position under this deal, which ruled out any further pay cuts.

“If Government want to continue to play megaphone politics by going through the newspapers and the media to get their message to us and try to divide the public against us, we will raise the ante as well."

The general secretary of the AHCPS, Dave Thomas said his union was asking our members to deliver the strongest possible ”No” vote to the current set of proposals.

“It is critical that we send an unmistakable signal to Government that these proposals are profoundly unfair and disproportionate. Our members are essentially being asked to bear the brunt of these cuts - on top of successive cuts and levies in recent years. Meanwhile the Government resolutely refuses to engage on the broader matter of equitable taxation, something that would allow for a much fairer approach.”

The TEEU said the proposals represented the final step that could be tolerated in the current climate. It said it would resist, with all means at its disposal, any further attempts to further diminish pay and conditions for staff.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said the shape and nature of the new Croke Park agreement “discriminated disproportionately against those staff working at the front line” who had a lot of their overall earnings made up of shift payments, overtime and allowances.