Gardaí warn of industrial unrest unless they get trade union rights

Garda body says planned new industrial relations legislation has inherent defects

The Garda Representative Association says the new legislation would “only partly address existing deficiencies in industrial relations legislation governing An Garda Síochána”. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

The Garda Representative Association says the new legislation would “only partly address existing deficiencies in industrial relations legislation governing An Garda Síochána”. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

 

Rank and file gardaí have warned of potential industrial unrest in the future unless the Government gives them the right to be part of a trade union and to go on strike.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said on Thursday that planned new industrial relations legislation had inherent defects and expressed concerns at its capacity to fully resolve longstanding grievances in An Garda Síochána.

“If it proceeds unamended, the Bill risks leaving in place a continuing sense of injustice with the attendant possibility of future industrial unrest,” the GRA said.

The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2018 proposes giving gardaí access to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and Labour Court.

Trade union status

The Irish Times reported in September 2017 that the Cabinet had decided to rule out trade union status for Garda representative organisations, to refuse members of the force the right to go on strike and to reject the idea of a separate body to determine pay for gardaí.

The GRA said on Thursday that while it welcomed the Government plans to give gardaí access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court, it suggested this did not go far enough.

The GRA maintained the new legislation would “only partly address existing deficiencies in industrial relations legislation governing An Garda Síochána”.

‘Right to strike’

“It said the Bill made no provision for an entitlement to engage in industrial action. In the ‘Eurocop’ case, the Council of Europe determined that gardaí should have ‘a right to strike’.

“Since this is not delivered in the Bill, it is difficult to see how the Irish State is not in dereliction of its international obligations as a member of that body. Certainly, no information indicating how it would not breach these obligations has been provided to the GRA. “

The GRA said the Government could have included in the legislation a “counterbalancing measure to compensate for this disadvantage”, but did not do so.