Thursday 8 December 2016

Garda Strike Off - What do the dramatic events of Thursday night mean?

Kevin Doyle, Anne Marie Walsh and Tom Brady

Published 04/11/2016 | 06:59

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan and inset AGSI president Antoinette Cunnningham and GRA president Ciaran O'Neill
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan and inset AGSI president Antoinette Cunnningham and GRA president Ciaran O'Neill

The Garda strike was called off late last night but future days of industrial action could still go ahead.

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What happened last night?

Garda Sergeants and Inspectors were the first to announce they would show up for work after an eleventh-hour deal.

The move meant the 2,500 members of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) will be available for duty, greatly reducing the pressure on Garda management.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) followed suit – just eight hours before the strike was due to start. Their vote was reportedly passed by a very tight 20-17.

Why did they make this decision?

The suspension of the strikes on the four Fridays of this month came after the executives of the garda bodies considered a Labour Court recommendation containing new proposals.

The GRA said the deal needed to be analysed in detail but was an improvement on previous offers.

What is in the offer?

The fresh offer from the Government is worth up to €3,639 a year. The GRA had rejected a €30.5m pay package that would have boosted its 10,500 members’ wages by almost €2,500 earlier this week.

The recommendation brings forward the dates for some of the key measures in the rejected deal. The offer means:

  • Rent allowance for new recruits will be restored on acceptance of the deal;
  • Rent allowance will be integrated into garda pay from January 1 next, boosting wages by €1,045;
  • The introduction of a pre-tour payment from the same date will be worth €1,459 a year;
  • New elements include a €500 increase in rent allowance from January 1 next, pushing up premium payments by €125;
  • In addition, a new €15 premium payment on annual leave to be introduced from April next year will be worth €510 a year.

What will happen now?

AGSI President Antoinette Cunningham said the union would ballot its members on Labour Court proposals after saying the deal represented “an uplift” in the income of all its members.

The GRA will also ballot its 10,500 members on the proposals. General secretary Pat Ennis said: “The central executive committee of the Garda Representative Association decided this evening to request our members to report for duty tomorrow and not to engage in industrial action while we consider the Labour Court proposal which we received tonight,” he said.

“We’re going to reconvene next Monday to determine our position.”

What will this deal cost the state?

It is unclear how much the deal will cost above the €30.5m package previously tabled by the government.

A total of €290m has already been set aside for pay increases next year under the Lansdowne Road deal.

The GRA had warned that it would not halt its industrial action unless the government committed to a substantial hike in its €30.5m pay offer.

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