herald

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Shatter on collision course with gardai

ALAN Shatter is on a collision course with furious gardai over plans to implement €60m worth of cuts to the force's payroll bill.

THE Herald has learned that rank-and-file gardai have been told to brace themselves for industrial action unless the raft of cuts are abandoned.

It has emerged that overtime, premium pay and weekend payments are all on the chopping block as part of a string of cost-cutting measures being considered by the Justice Minister.

News of the payroll cuts came less than 24 hours after 95 garda stations across the country were shut down. Another five stations will close their doors soon.

Dramatic

The Herald understands unions are preparing to consult with gardai across the country as they prepare plans to adopt a "work-to-rule" response to the stringent cuts.

"There are a number of options we can pursue. We can completely halt voluntary and community work.

"We can refuse to do overtime. The response we can take to this could be dramatic and Shatter would want to realise that," a senior source said.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) said representatives would not be budging "an inch".

"Our members are at the pin of their collars to pay bills," said general secretary John Redmond, who did not rule out industrial action.

Meanwhile, the Garda Representative Authority (GRA) said today that it has received its own copy of planned cuts.

"All of this will be discussed at length by our executive on Monday.

"Everybody can see the type of measures being talked about and the grassroots are being actively engaged with. However I cannot comment on individual measures," said GRA President John Parker.

Gardai face payroll cuts of €60m under a new three-year strategy being planned by the Garda Management, it emerged today.

Slashing overtime, premium payments, weekend and holiday payments and making Good Friday a standard working day is part of the planned radical overhaul of the garda payroll.

Chopping allowances for Saturday working alone would save €4.3m, according to the Department of Justice, which also wants each member of the Force to work an extra hour a day making the shift 11-hours long.

The savings would form part of the extra €1bn in payroll cuts which the Government is looking for by the end of 2015.

They come as almost 100 garda stations closed yesterday and the Government has also demanded that the force deliver savings of €18.2m this year form the pay bill.

Twilight

Documents indicate there are three possible options to bring about the required savings.

One is to pay all overtime at a flat rate, which could save €16m a year.

A standard working day of 8am to 8pm would save €5.7m a year and cuts in premium allowances would bring in a further saving of €9.7m.

Cutting allowances for working Saturdays would save €4.3m, while halving Sunday and public holiday pay would reduce payroll by over €31m.

A further €13m could be saved by cutting night duty payments and a twilight duty allowance paid from 6pm-8pm.

Treating Good Friday as a standard working day would offer a saving of €1.4m a year.

There are also plans to abolish an annual premium payment paid to some gardai to compensate them for losing premium payments when required to do off-roster duties.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has already walked out of the Croke Park talks and the Garda Representative Association will decide its position on Monday.

Mr Redmond warned the Taoiseach that he would not rule out industrial action.

hnews@herald.ie

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