The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has refused to enter negotiations with Garda management on the ongoing roster dispute until Commissioner Drew Harris suspends the implementation of the new system.
The announcement comes following two meetings this week between the commissioner and the four Garda representative bodies aimed at finding a solution to the impasse.
The GRA, which represents the vast majority of frontline gardaí, is fighting to maintain the rosters put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The rosters are based on 12-hour shifts and are popular with gardaí. Longer shifts, compared with those of eight hours or 10 hours, mean members work an average of six fewer shifts every 60 days.
The 12-hour shifts also mean more of the hours gardaí work are covered by unsocial hours’ allowances, thus increasing their remuneration.
The commissioner has said the current 12-hour rosters are “costly” and, because the Garda has to operate within a set budget, funding the pandemic roster was leading to a loss of policing hours. He has put that loss at 60 hours of police work per Garda member every year, or 13,000 per month, which he said was badly needed to bolster street policing.
At the first meeting on Thursday, the commissioner offered to enter into further negotiations under the umbrella of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) or an internal resolution process.
However, following the meeting, the GRA held a meeting of its central executive committee and issued a statement rejecting WRC negotiations. It said it does not believe internal negotiations have been exhausted.
The parties held another meeting on Friday morning during which the GRA delegation told the commissioner that it will not enter negotiations until the planned introduction of the new roster, scheduled for November 6th, is deferred.
“We believed that this was a very reasonable request as it would have shown that the commissioner was willing to enter meaningful negotiations without the looming threat of the November return to an unpopular and unworkable roster,” said GRA general secretary Ronan Slevin.
He said Mr Harris is now considering the request and “it remains the GRA position that negotiations cannot be commenced until this matter is resolved”.
The GRA is to hold a special delegates conference on Wednesday where members will “discuss and devise our next course of action”.
Garda Headquarters has previously said the roster the force will revert to from November 6th was in place for eight years before the pandemic. It said lengthy talks about completely new rosters took place with the GRA and Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, but no agreement was reached.
Earlier this month, the GRA, which represents about 11,000 rank-and-file gardaí in a 13,900-strong force, overwhelmingly backed a vote of no confidence in the commissioner largely based on the rostering issue.