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Saturday 10 December 2016

Fitzgerald cancels trip as gardai reject new deal

GRA president Ciaran O’Neill
GRA president Ciaran O’Neill

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has cancelled a planned business trip to London today in order to deal with the escalating garda crisis.

The garda strike looks set to go ahead on Friday after the Garda Representative Association (GRA) executive, led by president Ciaran O'Neill, last night rejected a new deal offered by the Government.

The deal was unanimously rejected by the GRA's executive following a meeting.

The GRA, which represents 10,500 rank-and-file members, shot down the Government deal, which offered improved terms and conditions.

The deal was brokered by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and presented to the executive earlier yesterday.

It is understood it would have been worth almost €2,500 per garda, but officers would have had to work for more than half of it.

Unsocial

Rent allowance worth €4,115 would be assimilated into pay, which would push up unsocial hours allowances by €1,025.

In addition, a so-called parade time - the 15 minutes before coming on duty that gardai spend preparing for their shift - would have been worth €1,458.

It is understood the first six pages of the deal were the same as presented to and rejected by the GRA executive on October 23. The GRA has demanded a clear roadmap for the restoration of pay cuts suffered during the financial crisis.

It wants a 39-hour week, down from 40, which could boost pay, and a new method of calculating overtime that would increase the rate.

It demanded the restoration of all allowances for recruits and elimination of two-tier pay.

Documents produced at talks show the association argued that savings in garda numbers per head of the population in terms of productivity equalled €93m between 2008 and 2015, while the reduction in annual overtime equalled €59m.

The WRC asked both sides to refrain from speaking publicly about the contents of the offer until a decision has been taken by the executive.

The rejection of the deal by the GRA will come as a massive blow to the Government.

Meanwhile, relations between the Government and AGSI, the union that represents garda sergeants and inspectors, remain tense after the body accused ministers of trying to misrepresent the type of access they have to the WRC.

One of AGSI's key demands is that they be allowed use of the State's industrial relation mechanism in the same way other public sector unions can.

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