Thursday 8 December 2016

AGSI claim 'a victory' after Taoiseach vows to fast-track garda demands for access to WRC and Labour Court

Published 02/11/2016 | 14:51

AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham Photo: Steve Humphreys
AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham Photo: Steve Humphreys

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has welcomed comments made by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil this afternoon confirming that he has asked the Attorney General "to move as quickly as possible" to put the legal frameworks in place to allow Gardaí have access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

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AGSI President Antoinette Cunningham said: "This is a victory for AGSI members as access to industrial relations machinery has been one of the key pillars of our pay campaign for the past four years.

“It was also one of the key decisions of the European Committee of Social Rights in 2014. We believe this is a significant step forward but we would caution that timeframes and exact dates are vital at this stage to give confidence to our 2,080 members."

Taoisaech Enda Kenny earlier indicated that he expects the Labour Court to ask gardaí to postpone Friday’s strike action in order to allow for more negotiations.

Ahead of roundtable talks at the court on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Kenny said a “very significant offer” has been made to the Garda Representatives Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI).

He was responding to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who described the situation as “very dangerous” and said “untold damage” could result from the threatened industrial action.

“Since the foundation of the State An Garda Siochana have been the glue that held our society together through many dark moments,” Mr Martin said.

He told the Dáil that gardaí have been “demoralised and ignored” and accused the Department of Justice of being “rudderless”.

Mr Kenny said there would be “no winners” if more than 12,000 gardaí fail to show up for work.

But he said it would be “normal procedure” for the Labour Court to ask all parities to “take a deep breath here” and “stand back form this industrial action”.

Mr Kenny added that the Labour Court is the “highest arbitration institution” in the State and he hoped the GRA and AGSI “would listen carefully to what the court has to say”.

“The motto of the garda is to work within communities and protect the public,” the Taoiseach said.

He promised that as part of a deal gardaí will be given formal access to the State’s industrial relations mechanism, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the Labour Court.

At yesterday’s Cabinet, Mr Kenny asked the Attorney General to move as quickly as possible to put the legal frameworks in place to allow this to happen.

“The Government have accepted the principle of having the machinery of the State available to them,” he said.

However, he was unable to give a date for when this would happen, leading Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to say: “A firm commitment without a firm date is meaningless.”

“The State facing an unprecedented crisis. We’ve none of this crisis for months but the Government failed to seek an early resolution. Why is everything left to the last minute?” Mr Adams asked.

The Taoiseach reiterated that any deal with gardaí would have to be within the confines of the Lansdowne Road Agreement which runs until September 2018.

He did confirm that Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe will begin to look at the successor to that pay deal next year and refused to rule out moving the end date forward.

The Labour Party’s Sean Sherlock said: “We keep hearing the mantra that the Lansdowne Road Agreement is the only show in town. At this stage it is abundantly clear that the Government’s mantra isn’t good enough.

“We need mechanisms to ensure that these dispute don’t keep becoming more common.”

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