Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has announced he will be rolling back roster arrangements for gardaí introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, drawing criticism from Garda representative groups.
The change will see gardaí moving from usually working 12-hour shifts for four days, followed by four days off, to working 10-hour shifts for six days and then having four days off.
Previous attempts by the Garda Commissioner to move away from the Covid-19 rosters, which had proved popular among rank and file members, had caused tensions with bodies representing gardaí.
The recent announcement followed a meeting between Mr Harris and the Garda representative associations on Tuesday afternoon.
Under the change, Garda rosters will revert to pre-Covid arrangements, known as the Westmanstown Roster, from November 6th.
Mr Harris said the return to the previous roster would be the policy, “pending further agreement on a new roster”.
The commissioner said he had written to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to seek “urgent assistance” in progressing negotiations on a future roster, which have to date faced resistance.
In correspondence to all gardaí on Tuesday, Mr Harris said it was “vital” that the roster used by the force served the public and allowed the Garda “to effectively and efficiently manage the organisation within the budget available”.
“It is clear that the Covid-19 roster no longer meets those criteria,” he wrote.
He said reverting to the previous Westmanstown Roster would provide certainty while discussions about a new roster took place.
In response, Ronan Slevin, interim general secretary of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), said the move would have a “negative impact” on its members’ wellbeing.
The GRA, who represent rank and file gardaí, said the return to the previous roster would be a further “erosion” of members’ work-life balance.
Mr Slevin said the change would mean a “continued and escalated dependence on overtime”, with less gardaí “on the ground” at any given time.
“This comes at a time when our members continue to struggle with a cost of living crisis, with extra costs in both childcare, travel and other work-related expenses,” he said.