Move to keep ban on strikes a ‘flagrant injustice’, gardaí say

Government backs recommendation Garda bodies should not become trade unions

The Garda Representative Association said the Government move had ‘potentially stored up future grievances’. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Garda Representative Association said the Government move had ‘potentially stored up future grievances’. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Rank and file gardaí have described as “a flagrant injustice” a Government decision that they should not be given the right to strike.

The Cabinet on Tuesday also accepted the recommendation of an interdepartmental working group that Garda organisations should not be become trade unions and that a standalone pay commission for members of the force should not be established.

However, it is understood that Finian McGrath, the super junior minister for disabilities, said the Garda associations should be given trade union status.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said the Government had considered the working group’s report and had approved “the drafting of legislation that will, when internal industrial relations mechanisms are in place, give the Garda associations access by right to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court”.

He said this legislation would be prioritised by Government with a view to early enactment.

Disruptive

The Irish Times reported yesterday that the working group had argued that any moves to allow industrial action “would have a significantly disruptive effect on Garda morale and effectiveness” given the ethos of discipline in An Garda Síochána and its responsibilities for policing, national security and border control.

The group also contended that the “unique requirement of An Garda Síochána would not be served by reconstituting the Garda associations as trade unions”.

Future grievances

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said the Government move had “potentially stored up future grievances”. It said it had left in place problems that were encountered last November when a planned strike over pay by gardaí was narrowly averted.

The association said the Council of Europe had determined in 2013 that the denial of the right to strike, collective bargaining and to affiliate with other workers’ groups amounted to a denial of civil rights afforded to all other workers and citizens. It said the Government decision defied this determination.

“If the Government insists on creating further unworkable draconian legislation while denying a determination of the Council of Europe, then it is clear they have little or no regard for our members,” GRA general secretary Pat Ennis said.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) expressed disappointment at the Government decision. “AGSI is disappointed that we only learned of the views of the interdepartmental working group through media leaks and question why we were not briefed on the content of the document?”