independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Private bill will pave way for gardai to go on strike

GARDAI will be given the right to go on strike under a new private bill being brought by a Labour TD – in a direct challenge to Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Labour Clare TD and barrister Michael McNamara is going to introduce a private member's bill to give collective bargaining rights to gardai.

He confirmed this would include the right to go on strike, but with protections to prevent the situation being exploited by criminals.

"There would be a right to strike, but it would obviously be a requirement for the maintenance of minimum services and for gardai to respond to orders," he said.

Since the foundation of the force, gardai have been prevented from going on strike or joining a trade union. This has meant that gardai have used other, unofficial methods to protest, most famously with the 'blue flu' in 1998, when they called in sick en masse.

The private bill is likely to increase coalition tensions, as Taoiseach Enda Kenny recently ruled out giving gardai the right to join a trade union.

Mr McNamara said that it was unfair that gardai did not have collective bargaining rights during pay negotiations, when prison officers and firefighters did.

"Currently, gardai cannot access the Labour Court and the Labour Relations Commission, nor can they affiliate with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in collective bargaining discussions," he said.

The Garda Siochana Act 2005 states that "a member of the Garda Siochana shall not be or become a member of any trade union". It allows gardai to form staff associations without full trade union status.

The two main bodies are the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

Irish Independent

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