Government relieved at approval of pay deal by gardaí
Settlement will have significant and costly impact on Lansdowne Road agreement
The threatened unprecedented strike by over 12,000 gardaí had seriously spooked some Ministers. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
The Government will be very relieved at the decisive decision by rank-and -file gardaí to accept the Labour Court recommendation on pay.
The threatened unprecedented strike by over 12,000 gardaí had seriously spooked some Ministers.
However, the settlement of the row with the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has come at a significant price.
The Labour Court recommendation in itself will cost the Government more than €50 million but it is the impact the ruling has had on the Lansdowne Road agreement, the centrepiece of public pay policy, that will be much more consequential in the long term.
On average gardaí will receive about €4,000 in additional payments under the recommendation.
This development has infuriated public service unions who contend that it is unacceptable that one group of public servants who stayed outside the Lansdowne Road deal should do better financially than those who remained inside the accord.
The Government had accepted that the “anomalies” thrown up by the Labour Court recommendation for gardaí will be addressed in talks with other unions, which are likely to begin before Christmas.
Dealing with these “anomalies” will inevitably cost the Government money.
The Irish Times reported last month that bringing forward a €1,000 pay increase due next September by a number of months had been discussed between Government representatives and trade unions.
However other options, also involving paying State employees more money, could emerge before these talks end at the end of January.
The big issue the Government will have to face is where the money to fund these new increases will come from. In the budget last October the Government allocated only the €290 million required to fund pay increases due next year under the Lansdowne Road agreement .
However, the Garda pay deal and the additional money for other public service staff to be determined by the end of January is likely to represent just a down payment on a broader deal. The Government hopes to reach this deal with unions in the summer to succeed the Lansdowne Road agreement.
As part of any such deal, unions are likely to press the Government to row back on productivity reforms agreed over recent years, such as the requirement of staff to work additional unpaid hours.
The Government is also likely to have a careful look at industrial relations in An Garda Síochána in the near future.
Ministers have agreed that gardaí in future should have routine access to the Labour Court and Workplace Relations Commission.
However, gardaí also want progress on a Council of Europe ruling in 2014 that they should have the right to strike .
A review of industrial relations matters involving gardaí is due shortly. However, the Government will have to decide whether to allow gardaí to take industrial action, and whether there should be limits to any such strike action.