Donohoe rules out pay deal to prevent Garda strike

Ministers believe concessions would lead to collapse of overall public service pay policy

 

As gardaí plan to take unprecedented strike action for four days, the Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has told Ministers he is unwilling to agree a special pay deal for members of the force.

Crucially, the Independent Alliance on Wednesday night signalled it would back a hard line from Government Buildings on the threatened Garda strike.

Independent Minister Finian McGrath told The Irish Times the group were “100 per cent on board” for insisting on maintaining the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said on Wednesday its members would unilaterally withdraw their services and not report for duty on the four Fridays in November – 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th – unless there was “substantial and significant progress towards real and tangible increases in our pay”. Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald expressed her disappointment at the GRA decision.

Compromise

Mr Donohoe has repeatedly said he is unwilling to compromise the Lansdowne accord and Government sources said there would be no movement on that position.

The Government believes the Lansdowne accord would collapse immediately if gardaí were given a special deal. That would lead to widespread industrial unrest in the public sector and endanger the stability of the public finances, they say.

Meanwhile, Garda sergeants and inspectors have also said they are considering a campaign of industrial action. Secondary-level teachers, who are members of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) are already balloting for strike action in a move which could close several hundred schools towards the end of October. The leadership of the GRA, which represents more than 10,000 rank and file gardaí agreed to take industrial action at a delegate conference in Tullamore on Wednesday.

Delegates rejected a draft agreement reached with the Government last weekend which would have involved the restoration of rent allowance – worth more than €4,000 – for gardaí recruited since 2012.

GRA general secretary Pat Ennis said the GRA plan involved a withdrawal of labour.

He said it was not another “blue flu” and members would not be ringing in claiming to be sick. However, he said essential services would be maintained. Trainee and probationary gardaí will be excluded.

Mr Ennis said: “We are denied the civil right to withdraw labour. We have exhausted every channel of industrial relations open to us. Government has taken advantage of our limited rights. Our members feel we have nowhere left to turn.”

When asked if the planned industrial action was illegal, Mr Ennis said: “The legislation states that, but equally there is an incumbent responsibility on the organs of the State to ensure that we are treated fairly and equally with every other worker and citizen. We have lost between 11 and 15 per cent in our pay.”

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors is to hold a special delegate conference on October 17th to consider proposals for industrial action.