Garda associations told they will have “parity of esteem” with unions

Department of Justice promises Garda bodies role in future pay talks and urges them to sign up to new agreement

Antoinette Cunningham, General Secretary of the AGSI which complained that it was excluded from the final phase of talks on the proposed agreement. File photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Antoinette Cunningham, General Secretary of the AGSI which complained that it was excluded from the final phase of talks on the proposed agreement. File photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

 

The Department of Justice has promised Garda representative organisations that they will receive “full parity of esteem” with trade unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) in future talks with the Government on public service pay.

Organisations representing thousands of public service personnel who are outside of the trade union movement, including gardaí, strongly argued they were left out of the final stages of the negotiations last December which led to the current public service deal.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) said in February it had made a formal complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission at being excluded from the final phase of talks on the proposed agreement last December. The AGSI said gardaí had no say in how the deal was put together.

The final deal was reached following talks between Government officials and a small group of senior figures in the Public Service s Committee of Ictu.

In a letter earlier this month, the Department of Justice said it wanted to see the gardaí representative organisations signing up to the new agreement to facilitate their members receiving pay increases, starting in the autumn.

The Department of Justice said “parity of esteem shall apply to the Garda representative associations when taking part in national pay talks with the departments of Justice and Public Expenditure and Reform and their officials”.

“Parity of esteem means that the representative associations will be afforded the same opportunities of engagement in such talks as all other trade unions and employee associations.”

The Department of Justice said such an engagement would “provide for the Garda associations to represent their members in an effective manner, to conduct negotiations with the management side and ensure that the associations are fully briefed on the development of proposals in a timely manner”.

The Department of Justice signalled it wanted the Garda associations to confirm that they would comply with the new agreement which has already been backed by trade unions affiliated to Ictu.

‘Quite explicit’

It warned that the agreement was “quite explicit” that only those groups that signed up to its terms would receive its benefits.

The deal provides for a one per cent pay rise next October and a similar increase in 2022.

There is also another pool of money, equivalent to a further one per cent pay increase in the pay bill , being set aside under a sectoral bargaining process to deal with issues, pay claims or outstanding awards in particular parts of the public service.

The Department of Justice said that each pay increase - including the first increase due on October 1st, 2021 - was contingent on reports being published outlining the progress made, with the co-operation of the staff side, in delivering reforms.

The AGSI said on Thursday it was awaiting some clarifications and may move to ballot members subsequently.

The Garda Representative Association is expected to finalise a ballot its members on the deal next month.