Garda strike called off as Labour Court proposes new pay deal

Government set to accept pay deal that goes beyond €30m package rejected by GRA

 

A nationwide Garda strike scheduled to take place on Friday has been deferred.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) both suspended their planned industrial action following recommendations on pay issued by the Labour Court on Thursday night.

The Government is expected to accept the proposals set out by the Labour Court for Garda pay, although they are likely to cost significantly more than the €30 million package of measures rejected by the GRA earlier this week.

Pat Ennis of the GRA said late on Thursday night the association had decided to request their members to report for duty on Friday and not to engage in industrial action while they consider the Labour Court proposal. “We are going to reconvene next Monday to examine our position,” he said.

“It is an improvement on previous proposals received from the Government and we need to give full consideration to it and consider the strengths and weaknesses of it. There is a lot of minutiae in it that needs to be analysed.

“As of tomorrow we are requesting our members to show up for work.” Mr Ennis said GRA members at various levels will have to consider it.

In its recommendation for rank and file gardaí, who are represented by the GRA, the Labour Court proposed that they should receive a new €15 payment for every day of annual leave, as well as more money in rent allowance.

Rent allowance

It has also proposed that plans to integrate rent allowance into core pay for all gardaí – which will have a knock-on impact on premium payments and overtime – should be brought forward to the beginning of January 2017.

It says that rent allowance should be restored for recently -recruited gardaí immediately on the acceptance of the new proposals.

It also recommended that the new €1,459 payment for gardaí to attend briefings prior to starting their shifts should also be introduced in January, earlier than previously anticipated.

Senior Government figures suggested on Thursday that Ministers would have no choice but to accept the terms of the court’s recommendations.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the decision to call off the day of industrial action.

“This has been an intensive period of negotiation with AGSI and I would like to commend all who have been involved in these complex discussions for engaging in this process in good faith and for their commitment to finding a resolution,” she said.

Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan declined to say whether her authority had been undermined after it emerged in recent days the AGSI and GRA were failing to comply with her order to be available for duty on Friday. She issued the order on Tuesday afternoon and also said all leave and rest days were cancelled.

However, while rank and file gardaí, sergeants and inspectors were told to report their availability to their senior officers, multiple sources said the vast majority were ignoring the order from the time it was issued up until late on Thursday when both associations were still planning to strike.

‘Historic wrong’

Speaking after it announced it was suspending its strike action AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said: “A fundamental and historic wrong has been put right tonight as a direct result of the sustained four-year AGSI campaign to gain access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.”

“This has always been a key part of our commitment to members and that commitment intensified in recent weeks.

“The AGSI have gained an uplift in the income of all our members, the details of which will be circulated to the national executive and membership and will be subsequently balloted upon. “

Senior Government sources discounted the suggestion that martial law would have been considered in the event of a Garda strike going ahead.

However, highly placed sources said the Cabinet did discuss the potential for disciplinary action against gardaí at its meeting last Tuesday.