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Sunday 21 September 2014

Gardai to meet on €1bn cuts as first union pulls out of Croke Park talks

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

Published 26/01/2013 | 05:00

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THE main garda union will next week decide whether to enter talks on a new Croke Park deal after a fellow union pulled out of discussions.

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The central executive committee of the Garda Representative Association, which has more than 11,500 members, will discuss whether there is a basis for talks with the Government on €1bn cuts.

But union president John Parker told the Irish Independent that members would not accept cuts to allowances and overtime, which they consider part of core pay.

The meeting on Wednesday comes after the union for mid-ranking officers, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), walked out of initial talks on a successor to the Croke Park deal yesterday.

The aim of the discussions is to reach agreement on an extra €1bn in payroll savings over the next three years.

The savings are on top of €3.3bn already earmarked under the Croke Park deal by 2015.

The Government has tabled potential cuts to allowances, overtime and increments, as well as extra working hours, at the talks.

Mr Parker said there was nothing to walk away from yet, as his union had not made a decision to engage in negotiations on cuts.

He said initial meetings attended by the union were briefing sessions and formal proposals had not been tabled.

"We never actually entered negotiations on pay so there is nothing to walk away from yet," he said. "The first few meetings were information sessions and nothing really came out of them.

"We got a roadmap document at the last one, which sets out the areas that may be cut. That document will be placed before our executive on Wednesday. The executive will decide the value of this process."

It is understood that some unions will argue that the Croke Park deal, which was brokered in March 2010, has not run out so it is premature to be discussing a follow-up deal.

The AGSI is the first union to walk away from the talks on slashing payroll costs, which began earlier this month.

It said it would not be involved in any process that involved cutting its members' pay.

Gardai have been asked to contribute over 6pc, or €60m, of the €1bn savings.

Of this, €18.2m has to be delivered this year.

The saving being demanded is proportionate to the cost of the force to the State.

Management figures reveal that the total garda pay bill costs €955m.

The biggest costs are garda salaries at €578m, garda allowances at €200m, and overtime at €41m.

There are more than 13,000 gardai, as well as 1,903 sergeants, 262 inspectors, 153 superintendents and 991 members of the garda reserve.

Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins said the AGSI decision was a "wake-up call" for Justice Minister Alan Shatter. "It is further evidence of the increasing arrogance we see from Mr Shatter as he presides over an unprecedented dismantling of our garda force," he added.

Irish Independent

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