independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Gardai pull out of Croke Park talks as work-to-rule planned

GARDAI are considering pulling out of cash-in-transit and prisoner escorts as part of a new protest after talks on cuts in overtime and premium payments collapsed.

A work-to-rule is being considered by rank-and-file officers, which will hit non-core duties, from escorts to bureaucratic work.

It comes after officials from the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said they would not engage in talks with the Government while wage cuts were on the table.

The Irish Independent understands that while there is some reluctance within the GRA hierarchy for a full-scale 'blue flu' type protest, a work-to-rule campaign is being considered as an opening salvo against the draconian cutbacks.

Following a day-long meeting, the GRA said its executive committee had rejected all proposals that included a cut in garda wages but would examine measures that did not "impact" on pay or hours worked.

Last night's decision means the GRA and Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), which represents 2,000 senior officers, have effectively walked away from talks on a revised Croke Park deal.

It is a major concern and embarrassment for Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who both made last-ditch pleas for gardai to stay at the talks.

But GRA president John Parker warned they would not take part in any process that proposed wage cuts.

Fury

Anger is mounting after officers were asked to contribute more than €60m, or 6pc, of the €1bn in savings being sought.

"There is absolute fury at grassroots level over what has been done to the force," one GRA official said.

"Gardai have taken a huge hit in their wage packets, and now supports such as stations and allowances are being targeted."

The last 'blue flu' campaign, where gardai called in sick en masse, met with mixed results and GRA officials believe a work-to-rule campaign would have potentially greater implications for the Government.

This would take the form of individual gardai insisting on performing only their core duties and declining or delaying the performance of non-core duties.

Garda associations have also been approached by unions representing emergency services including firemen and paramedics keen to present a united front against the cuts.

Mr Shatter earlier said he hoped garda unions would engage in the talks. "These are talks taking place to deal with a broad range of issues in the public sector,'' he said.

Meanwhile, a senior garda insisted there would be no reduction in policing in the wake of the closure of garda stations.

Assistant Commissioner John Twomey of the Dublin Metropolitan Region told a joint policing committee at Dublin City Hall that the closures would bring about a "more modern police force".

Mr Twomey said: "I do want to assure everybody that there is no reduction in policing. It's about gardai being more mobile."

Irish Independent

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