Garda representatives refuse to accept new roster proposals

Negotiations ongoing for months to replace force’s coronavirus emergency arrangement

The representative organisation for rank-and-file gardaí has refused to accept a proposed new roster system which it believes will result in some gardaí working more days for less money.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, gardaí have been on a special roster which maximises the numbers on duty and means members working four 12-hour days followed by four days off.

Negotiations between Garda management and employee representatives have been ongoing at Westmanstown in Dublin since early 2022 on what system should replace this roster.

This week the facilitator of the negotiations sent a final report outlining the new rostering system to the Garda representative organisations for their consideration.

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The Garda Representative Association (GRA), which represents the vast majority of gardaí, considered the report at a meeting of its Central Executive Committee (CEC) on Tuesday.

The CEC refused to accept in its current form the proposed roster system, meaning it will not be put to a vote of GRA members.

GRA leaders are due to meet Commissioner Drew Harris on Friday to discuss the next steps.

Financial impact

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors also considered the report at a meeting on Tuesday. They have not reached a decision yet and will meet again on Friday after they meet Mr Harris.

The new system would mean gardaí rostered for a mixture of eight-, 10- and 12-hour shifts. Frontline gardaí who have to work a mixture of night and day shifts will be mostly on 12-hour rosters. Non-core gardaí, such as detectives, community policing officers and others who are not rostered on a 24/7 basis, will mostly be on eight-hour shifts.

It is understood the GRA believes this arrangement will adversely affect non-core gardaí. These members will lose out on up to €2,000 in entitlements per year while also having fewer days off, the GRA believes. It also believes the new roster will be more unpredictable. The Covid-19 roster was generally popular among members due to its predictability.

“A number of issues were identified within the proposal that causes serious concern and now require further clarity and explanation,” said the GRA in an internal message to members.

“Specifically, it is our view that the proposal contains some adverse changes to our current terms and conditions of employment, including earnings, increased cost of living and will have a potential negative impact on work-life balance. Concerns were also raised relating to the loss of predictability in rosters.”

The Westmonstown proposals include other provisions including a ban on early morning shifts starting before 7am “for reasons of health and safety” and the classification of work-related communications which occur during rest periods as working time if they last longer than 15 minutes.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times