Thursday 27 October 2016

Six things you need to know about the proposed Garda strikes

Published 28/09/2016 | 19:21

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Rank-and-file gardai have announced four dates in November to carry out industrial action.

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But what's happening and what's it all about? Here are six things you need to know.

1. What's happening?

Rank and file gardai have decided to take industrial action in a row over their pay and conditions. High on the list of reasons for industrial action is the fact that gardai believe they have been hard done by compared with other public servants.

They complain that pay for new recruits is among the worst, they have been left out of union talks, do not have access to State mediation bodies or the right to strike.

They also complain that they are the only group of public servants doing a 40-hour week and feel they should have different sick leave rules, given the hazards of their jobs.

2. What are the dates?

The dates for their withdrawal of service are four consecutive Fridays: November 4, November 11, November 18 and November 25.

3. What will happen on those dates?

Union members will down tools on the days in question. The GRA said today that emergency services will still be available on the day but there will be no gardai answering calls in stations, no gardai on the beat and no interaction with the public.

4. What are the Garda Representative Association (GRA) saying?

Following the conference in Tullamore this afternoon, the GRA said the industrial action "was not an easy choice to make, [but they felt they had] no option".

In a statement, they said:

"Members of the Garda Representative Association are denied the civil rights afforded other workers and citizens.

"We are denied the civil right to withdraw our labour.

"There is an implied contract that the civil power will not abuse its police force.

"We have exhausted every channel of industrial relations open to us. Government has taken advantage of our limited rights. Our members feel that we have nowhere left to turn.

"Gardaí do a dangerous, difficult and often thankless job.

"Garda pay has fallen behind others. Our claim for pay restoration has been ignored.

"Gardaí have legitimate grievances – and it is with vocational reluctance that 95% of the GRA membership feel they have no option but to take industrial action."

5. Have gardai been on strike before?

Gardai are not legally permitted to strike, and so on May 1, 1998 a total of 5,000 members called in sick on a day remembered as the "blue flu". 68pc of the force in Dublin and as much as 100pc in other parts of the country didn't show up for work.

They were expressing dissatisfaction with pay.

It was the first time in history there was a work stoppage in the Garda Siochana.

6. What's garda dissatisfaction like now?

A total of 95pc said 'yes' to industrial action. Two-thirds of the membership voted.

Results, seen by, reveal that 9,875 members were balloted, 6,505 votes were counted with just 136 spoiled. A total of 6,069 (95.3%) voted in favour with just 300 (4.7%) voting against.

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