herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Crisis as garda sergeants decide to withdraw labour next month

Frances Fitzgerald Picture: Collins
Frances Fitzgerald Picture: Collins

Blue Flu is set to sweep the country with even more force after mid-ranking gardai yesterday confirmed they will also withdraw their labour next month.

The move means garda supervisors will refuse to work on the same four days of strike action planned by their rank-and-file coll- eagues.

The leadership of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) decided "overwhelmingly" in favour of supporting the protest at a special conference in Athlone.

This comes as a huge blow to the contingency plans drawn up by top brass. It effectively means no officers will be available to supervise recruits or reservists if they are being sent on to the streets.

The decision also marks the first time that the two associations have opted to refuse to work, as only Garda Representative Association (GRA) members were involved in the infamous Blue Flu action.

Members insisted they ere not going on strike but will "withdraw labour" on the four Fridays of November selected by the GRA for their action.

Disappointed

Legal advice was given to conference delegates that they were not breaking the law by withdrawing labour. It was unclear if they could face disciplinary action.

Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said last night she was disappointed by the decision, especially considering the AGSI had not balloted its members beforehand and only seven weeks ago had voted to accept the Lansdowne Road agreement by more than 70pc.

She encouraged them to continue in talks to find a solution and address their concerns in relation to the pay of new recruits, the additional hours that gardai were required to work, their access to pay determination and resolution bodies and the completion of a review of the force.

Agsi president Antoinette Cunningham said the time for talking was over and it was time for action.

She insisted that her members were not walking away from the Lansdowne Road pay agreement, but accused the official side of reneging on their part of the deal.

She held out hope that the action could be averted if Justice Department officials engaged in meaningful and constructive talks.

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