Friday 9 December 2016

No gardai strike contingency plan for at least a week

Published 23/10/2016 | 02:30

Strike force: Gardai on duty
Strike force: Gardai on duty

Contingency plans to police the country over four days of Garda strikes will not be finalised for at least a week, according to senior sources.

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Senior Garda sources said management want to allow the two representative bodies, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), the space this week to negotiate with the Department of Justice on their pay claims.

If talks fail, the focus will then turn to thrashing out a contingency deal with the two Garda associations. Talks between the associations and the Department of Justice are due to continue next week in an attempt to avert a threatened garda strike.

The mass "withdrawal of service" would take more than 12,000 gardai off the streets over four days in November, putting national security at risk The GRA has asked its members in the Emergency Response Unit and the five Regional Support Units to work on strike days while certain technical officers will be on call.

However management is likely to request further derogations to allow certain gardai in key positions remain on duty on strike days.

One senior officer said: "It is very important that there are quite a number of areas that need cover, airports, ports, courts, road traffic, surveillance. Some of these services simply cannot come to a stop."

Preliminary contingency talks with the GRA and AGSI were held late last week and are expected to resume later this week.

Denis Ferry, general secretary of the Garda Superintendents Association, said there is still hope that the GRA and the AGSI will resolve the issues over pay in talks with government departments in the coming days.

However if the withdrawal of service goes ahead, he said "there won't be the capacity within the superintendent ranks to take on all of the added functions that will be required".

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has meanwhile instructed civilian members who work for An Garda Siochana or the Department of Justice "not to undermine" the industrial action by GRA and the AGSI.

In a circular to members last week, it warned members not to take on the additional duties that would normally be carried out by gardai.

It instructed members not to take on overtime to cover for striking gardai, and also asked them not to take on work outside of their normal duties on the days of withdrawal of service.

The GRA and the AGSI want to restore their pay to pre-austerity levels and gain access to the State's industrial relations bodies.

Sunday Independent

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