Garda pay deal to allow for restoration of rent allowance

Gardaí must make a number of commitments under terms of draft document

Rank-and-file gardaí will have to make a number of commitments in exchange for the restoration of more than €4,000 in rent allowance, under the terms of a draft pay deal. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Rank-and-file gardaí will have to make a number of commitments in exchange for the restoration of more than €4,000 in rent allowance, under the terms of a draft pay deal. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Rank-and-file gardaí will have to make a number of commitments in exchange for the restoration of more than €4,000 in rent allowance, under the terms of a draft pay deal.

The document, a copy of which has been seen by The Irish Times, commits to restoring the controversial pay cut, but sets out a quid pro quo.

These conditions will now be debated at a Garda Representative Association (GRA) delegate conference on Wednesday.

They include a commitment to the terms of the Lansdowne Road pay agreement and continued co-operation with various ongoing initiatives, such as the introduction of victim support offices and the Armed Response Unit in Dublin.

A re-alignment of the National Support Services; the introduction of a restructured training programme for new entrants; a review of the Garda employee assistance service, and consultation and engagement with the programme of district amalgamation and rationalisation of Garda stations are also listed as conditions.

A verification system to monitor co-operation and implementation of these conditions is allowed for.

Crucially, the draft agreement - finalised by the GRA and the Department of Justice late on Friday - recognises the GRA’s “long-standing aim” of achieving a 39-hour work week for rank-and-file members.

This issue is to be referred to a third party “for examination to be completed before the expiry of the Lansdowne Road Agreement”.

While the terms will represent a welcome breakthrough in the ongoing dispute between Garda unions and the Government, the issue of full pay restoration remains a high priority for many gardaí.

The potential impact of this on the deal will only become clear on Wednesday.

Fempi Act

Under the terms of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Fempi) Act, 2013, members suffered a 5.5 per cent pay reduction in salaries up to €80,000 and a pension levy averaging 9 per cent.

“[Pay restoration] does need to be addressed sooner as a matter of urgency and I am hoping that it will be dealt with in this year’s Budget,” GRA president Ciaran O’Neill said on Monday.

Wednesday’s special delegate conference in Tullamore, Co Offaly, will deal exclusively with the content of the draft pay deal.

The draft deal was considered by the GRA executive on Monday before a decision was taken to bring it to Tullamore.

“The central executive committee today has decided that further discussion is required,” Mr O’Neill said.

“Representatives will be given the opportunity to debate the package and then decide whether or not to ballot our membership.”

If the document is accepted, it will remove the threat of further public sector industrial action, with disputes already underway in transport and threatened in education.

A deal would also protect the integrity of the Lansdowne Road Agreement, the cornerstone of the Government’s public service pay policy.

The draft document acknowledges the “abolition of the rent allowance for new entrants to An Garda Siochána has had a significant impact on their pay and is a contentious issue” for the GRA.

If accepted, the rent allowance will be restored in two phases: 50 per cent from next January and the remainder from January 2018.