GRA leader survives no confidence vote in dispute over strike action

Pat Ennis faced motion after split over handling of last Friday’s averted strike action

Garda Representative Association general secretary Pat Ennis. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Garda Representative Association general secretary Pat Ennis. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The leader of one of the Garda staff bodies in dispute with the Government over rates of pay has survived a motion of no confidence.

Garda Representative Association (GRA) general secretary Pat Ennis faced the vote at a meeting of the national executive in Dublin on Wednesday after a split over the handling of last Friday’s averted strike action.

The executive has been deeply divided since last week when a last minute concession was made to Garda management by the GRA asking its members in 18 key areas of the force to work during the planned strike.

The withdrawal of service, a strike in all but name, was called off and the contingency plan not needed.

But some on the GRA executive believed a small group of their colleagues buckled when put under pressure by Garda management last Thursday morning and had agreed to ask members in key areas to work on the day despite the executive having ruled out such a move three times.

Mr Ennis became the target of that anger and a motion of no confidence in him was tabled by some executive members at its meeting in Dublin on Monday.

When the meeting refused to accept the motion to be put to a vote, six executive members walked out in protest.

However, the motion was eventually accepted and postponed until today when Mr Ennis won by a margin of 25 votes to 16.

The dispute has been damaging to the association and undermines the authority of the executive to advise ordinary members on whether they should vote to accept or reject the strike-averting financial package put forward by the Labour Court last week.

If the vote of no confidence in Mr Ennis had been carried, a new group opposed to the package may have emerge at the top of the GRA.

The first of four planned strike days, from 7am last Friday, was called off late last Thursday night. The action was averted after the GRA and Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) agreed to put the Labour Court proposals to their members in a ballot.

Agsi decided on Wednesday to recommend that its members vote in its planned ballot to accept the deal put forward by the Labour Court last Thursday.

Agsi’s decision to recommend the deal to its members was expected. The recommendation will be made when ballot papers are sent to all 2,000 members in coming days.

The GRA has yet to decide whether it will recommend its members vote to accept the offer.

For now, it has suspended plans for a strike on the remaining three Fridays in November as it ballots its members on the Labour Court proposals.

The package involves the reintroduction of a €4,000-per-year rent allowance for new Garda members and for that allowance to be rolled into salary for all Garda members, which would increase overtime and premium payments calculated off-salary.

Allowances for each day’s leave a Garda member takes and small payments for pre-shift briefings also form part of the recommendation.