Groups representing gardaí and military officers have voiced “deep concern” at their apparent exclusion from exploratory talks on a new public service pay agreement.
The current agreement, the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA), is due to expire at the end of 2020. On Thursday the annual congress of Fórsa, the country’s largest public service union, heard that talks with Government concerning a successor agreement have intensified significantly in recent days.
Unlike other public sectors, gardaí and Defence Forces members are not permitted by law to join trade unions. Instead they have representative organisations which in the past have had input on pay talks.
Both the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) and the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (Raco) expressed frustration on Friday at not been included in the latest talks.
“It appears that pay talks are happening but without the involvement of all stakeholders,” Agsi said in a statement.
It said its General Secretary Antoinette Cunningham had made inquiries with Garda Headquarters about a successor to the PSSA but was told "there is no meeting for staff associations imminent."
It said it is “disappointed and deeply concerned” that talks are ongoing without the Association despite guarantees it would be included.
“Our National Executive will meet next week to consider if the parameters of a successor to the PSSA talks might already be pre-determined, and if this is the case, what role if any, do we actually have in national pay talks?”
Raco's General Secretary Conor King expressed similar views: "It appears that uniformed services will once more have to wait until those unions with industrial action in their armour have concluded pre talk negotiations with [the Department of Public Expenditure] before being informed of any agreed parameters."
He said despite not being included in the initial talks, gardaí and military personnel “will presumably have the gun put to our heads in a ‘take it or leave it’ scenario when pay talks commence and conclude.”
“Our members are disappointed and deeply concerned that having been guaranteed that Defence Forces representative associations would have a strong voice at the negotiating table, exploratory talks are now happening without our involvement,” Mr King said.