Wednesday 26 October 2016

Gardai plan 4 days of strike action as pay row heats up

Pat Ennis, general secretary of the GRA, speaks to the media
Pat Ennis, general secretary of the GRA, speaks to the media

Rank and file gardai are set to withdraw labour in an "unprecedented" move over a dispute about pay and conditions.

Gardai will not report for duty on four days in November after rejecting a pay deal.

The force may also be hit by further industrial action, with garda sergeants and inspectors also considering a campaign after they said "significant new information" about how their pay will be determined in the future came to light.

Gardai are restricted from going on strike, as it is illegal for anyone to encourage them to withdraw their labour. However, there is a grey area in relation to whether individual members can withdraw their services.

This is the first time that gardai will stop working in an industrial relations dispute. It is understood that members of the Garda Representative Organisation (GRA) also considered using the "blue flu" method of protest. This would have involved five days of mass sick leave being taken.

The general secretary of the GRA, Pat Ennis, said emergency services would continue to operate during the strikes, including the 999 service, while other ranks in the force would be at work.

He called on the Government to re-instate the money lost in pay cuts taken during the recession and said that the State had failed gardai and compelled them to take action.


"It's not a choice that was taken easily," he said. "We are a vocational group of people and it was with great reluctance that this decision was made today, but we felt that we had no option to achieve a successful outcome to our negotiations.

"It's a momentous day. It's unprecedented."

The strikes are a blow to the Government and comes amid a number of looming strikes, including the ongoing Dublin Bus dispute and potential action by school teachers.

Rank and file members of the force had already decided they will not cooperate with the Garda Commissioner's €200m five-year plan to modernise it after the government stopped paying their increments in July.

This plan includes a new division to investigate cyber crime, including online fraud and paedophilia, new community policing teams and electronic tracking of criminal investigations.

The industrial action route was decided after gardai unanimously rejected a draft deal with the Department of Justice that would have meant the end of a pay freeze and restoration of a €4,017 rent allowance for new recruits.


But the lack of a timetable for full restoration of €2bn in pay cuts taken during the crisis years was the last straw for many delegates.

Gardai rejected the draft deal at a Special Delegate Conference in Tullamore yesterday.

The meeting came a day after 95pc of the association's members said they were willing to take a day or days of industrial action in a secret ballot.

After rejecting the deal, almost 200 delegates, representing the association's 10,500 members in 31 divisions, mandated the conference to take industrial action.

An emergency motion from the Meath division called on the conference to proceed with the mandated action.

The strikes are scheduled for November 4, 11, 18 and 25.

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