AGSI says will not consider any pay deal with allowance cuts
Government seeks to replace payments to gardaí for working unsocial hours
Delegates voting on a motion at the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) annual conference in Westport, Co. Mayo. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus
Garda sergeants and inspectors have said they could not consider any new pay deal under which any member of the Garda suffered a reduction in allowances.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) said it was currently campaigning for a restoration of the cuts to its members’ remuneration since the onset of recession and could only consider proposals that furthered that campaign.
AGSI general secretary John Jacob said he would not tolerate any process under which some allowances would be taken off some members in order to fund the rationalisation of all allowances into more uniform single-shift payments.
“We will be putting a precondition on that process stipulating all members maintain their current rates of income,” he said.
“If people are in receipt of unsocial hours [allowances] right now, they would receive a shift payment under the new proposals. But in order to pay Garda members that new shift payment, we would not tolerate them taking money off those in receipt of allowances for being instructors or detectives.”
Mr Jacob added: “It can’t be a matter of taking that sum of money and saying, ‘we’re going to give you more because you’re doing the heavy lifting and working nights and we’re going to give the other person less because you’re a detective’. The current payment level has to be maintained.”
His comments followed a report in The Irish Times on Tuesday that the Department of Justice, following consultation with senior Garda management, was readying for significant reforms in how members of the force would be paid.
The proposals, aimed at creating more flexible rosters and reducing overtime expenditure, would see an end to allowances paid to gardaí for working weekends and other unsocial hours. These account for about 60 per cent of the annual allowances bill of €194 million. Instead, a rationalised “shift” payment would be devised.
The measures are in the Government’s submission to a review of Garda pay, which was one of the measures in the Haddington Road agreement and is being conducted under Ray McGee, formerly of the Labour Relations Commission.
At its annual conference in Westport, Co Mayo, the AGSI has been advocating with some militancy for a restoration of the remuneration cuts since 2008 and is considering strike action, even though Garda members are barred by law from striking.
Mr Jacob said the review had been “long-fingered and delayed” and the precondition that its outcome should be cost-neutral had resulted in the AGSI losing confidence in it.
He called on the McGee process to be “reset” by removing the Government’s precondition that it must be cost-neutral and with the Government accepting the AGSI’s insistence that none of its members lose any part of the remuneration they were not receiving.