Labour Court’s special hearing for gardaí in final bid to avert strike

Garda strike now more likely as GRA rejects revised pay proposals

Government representatives tabled a revised pay offer to the Garda Representative Association, but it was rejected. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Government representatives tabled a revised pay offer to the Garda Representative Association, but it was rejected. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

The country now seems set to face its first ever strike by gardaí on Friday, following the rejection of revised pay proposals by their main representative body on Monday night.

The central executive of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) unanimously opposed a new offer put forward by the Department of Justice following several days of talks facilitated by officials of the Workplace Relations Commission.

The Labour Court is expected to invite the parties to a special hearing on Wednesday in a final bid to avert strike action.

GRA president Ciaran O’Neill said on Monday night that the revised pay proposals were insufficient. He said his association was still open for further talks with the Government, but that as of now a scheduled strike by 10,500 rank and file gardaí on Friday was going ahead.

“We had the presentation from the Department [of Justice],” he said. “We rejected it unanimously. We’re still open for talks. It is still in the hands of the department to come back to us. The sticking point is that there wasn’t enough in it. The whole package wasn’t acceptable to the members. I don’t want to go into specific details. The decision from conference in relation to Friday is that it is still going on.”

As reported in The Irish Times on Saturday, the proposed deal involved the reintroduction of a €4,000 rent allowance for gardaí recruited in recent years.

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This would be incorporated into the Garda incremental scale subject to co-operation with a planned modernisation and renewal programme, and would have had knock-on implications for overtime and premiums rates.

The Government also proposed the establishment of a new payment to cover a 15-minute briefing session prior to gardaí starting their shifts.

The Government maintained that this could have been worth €1,459 to each garda and would cost of nearly €15 million.

The document proposed that rent allowance payments would be phased in in two parts, half in January 2017 and the other half in January 2018.

It proposed the new pre-shift briefing payment would commence next April at the latest.

Continuing talks

Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors

The GRA, which has 10,500 members, and the AGSI, which has 2,000 membership, are scheduled to stage four strike on the four Fridays in November.

If the planned strike action on Friday goes ahead it will leave between 300 and 400 officers at superintendent rank and higher to police the State with the assistance of recruit and probationer gardaí as well as Garda reservists.

However,

Government sources on Monday night said members of the Defence Forces may also be used, with one adding that the military had already been participating in the contingency planning should it be needed.

The presence of armed or unarmed soldiers patrolling the streets appears unlikely as it could create panic and also damage Ireland’s reputation abroad, military sources say.

However, they said members of the military could be used as an additional resource to control flashpoint situations. For example, if a large number of people rioting or engaging in public disorder needed to be arrested, military personnel could be drafted in and under the direction of one senior Garda officer they could restrain suspects.