herald

Friday 2 December 2016

€3,500 offer to gardai in late night deal ends threat of strike

Pat Ennis has units ready
Pat Ennis has units ready

Today's garda strike action was dramatically called off at the 11th hour last night after rank-and-file gardai agreed to  consider a new pay deal.

However, no decision has been made on whether strike action scheduled for later in the month will go ahead.

The central executive committee of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) received a recommendation from the Labour Court shortly before 9pm.

The GRA has said the deal needs to be analysed in detail, but is an improvement on previous offers.

Talks will resume on Monday and a ballot of members will be organised in a “timely fashion”.

General secretary Pat Ennis said they “need to identify the full strengths and weaknesses of it”.

Progress

He said progress has been made after a long road.

Mr Ennis also said he could not pre-empt how members would feel about the strike being called off, as it would be down to each individual. 

Around 9,000 rank-and-file gardai had been due to down tools today as talks to avert strike action went down to the wire last night.

A last-minute recommendation from the Labour Court, hours ahead of the strike start time of 7am, made a number of improvements on the previous deal.

The overall hike in pay for gardai who benefit from all the increases in the proposed deal is around €3,500.

It includes an increase in rent allowance of €500 which will be incorporated into basic pay, pushing up allowances.

A premium on annual leave of €510 a year will also be paid and the increments freeze will also be lifted if the deal is accepted.

Some issues not addressed include a 39-hour working week. If no agreement is reached, the Labour Court will resolve the issue early next year, according to the new deal.

The offer  sent to the GRA last night was considered by the central executive committee late into the evening.

However, the deal on the table did not meet their earlier demands, which GRA president Ciaran O’Neill said this week would need to include “significant and substantial” improvements on the previous pay offer.

As the GRA grappled with its decision last night, there was massive friction behind the scenes.

The mid-afternoon announcement that the association would give a derogation to 18 units in the event of a strike caused consternation among some senior members.

It was never agreed by the central executive committee that officers from units including the Special Detective Unit and Immigration Units would be exempt from industrial action.

A delegation from the GRA met with Assistant Commissioner Eugene Corcoran yesterday morning to discuss contingencies.

It is claimed that Mr Corcoran told the meeting that if a full withdrawal of services by rank-and-file members went ahead, the security of the State and lives would be at risk.

Martial

Sources said the meeting was told that martial law might have to be declared by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) also decided to suspend their planned strike action today.

AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said: “A fundamental wrong has been righted in relation to gardai accessing industrial relations mechanisms. AGSI has secured an uplift in pay for all members.”

However, she declined to reveal further details of the pay deal until it has been sent to members.

Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the decision by AGSI to cancel its industrial action, saying she wanted

“to commend” all who had been involved in “complex discussions”.

“The part played by the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court in seeking to resolve this dispute has been invaluable. I

want to thank them.”

Yesterday, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan had described the situation as “very serious” and “unprecedented”.

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