Thursday 27 October 2016

We won't hide behind a blue flu - this time we'll strike, warn gardai

AGSI members march to the Dail in protest over garda pay (INM)
AGSI members march to the Dail in protest over garda pay (INM)

Mid-ranking gardai have warned of official strike action - despite such a move being illegal - if the Government refuses to engage in direct negotiations over pay restoration.

It comes as around 300 off-duty gardai marched on the Department of the Taoiseach.

The group began at Castle Street before walking to Merrion Street Upper and delivering a letter to a representative of Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, demanding talks.

John Jacob, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), said there would be no repeat of the 'blue flu' where gardai called in sick en masse in 1998.

"We know that the blue flu, the public didn't appreciate it. If it's a matter that we are withdrawing labour, we will declare we are withdrawing labour.

"We won't hide behind the blue flu, we will come out publicly and say this is a legitimate protest and this is what we are doing. And if there has to be consequences, unfortunately, yes we'll accept them," he told the Herald.

Mr Jacob said that the exact manner of industrial action would be a matter for a special delegate conference in June.

The gardai, who marched dressed in blue to signify their connection with law enforcement, say they have suffered 25pc pay cuts since 2008.

Mr Jacob said gardai decided to march out of uniform yesterday to give members the option of escalating their protest, by marching in uniform. Further protests are planned over the next three weeks.

He said that the members didn't expect to get 25pc back "in one fell swoop," but to be able to engage in negotiations.


"We want them to sit down with us and to plan when they are going to give it back to us and to set out a time frame for restoration, because that's what our members want to hear."

President of the AGSI Antoinette Cunningham said that she would seek the views of members on whatever forms of action they want to take.

She said there was "absolutely" a mood for strike action among AGSI members.

"Our people are simply not going to take any more talking, or any more placing of garda pay far, far down below the Government agenda.

"They need to sit up and take notice and this will be a protracted campaign if that is what it needs to be," she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Jacob also said that gardai wanted to be able to negotiate their own pay.

"We would not want and we will not tolerate somebody else negotiating our pay for us and that has been happening heretofore," he said.

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