Thursday 30 March 2017

The garda strike explained: Eight things you need to know

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Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

With the first of a series of unprecedented strikes by rank-and-file gardaí set to go ahead on Friday, here are eight things you need to know.

1. Is there still a chance it will be called off?

On Wednesday night, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said the strikes will go ahead unless there is a “substantial and significant progress towards real and tangible increases in pay.”

Discussions will continue in the Labour Court today, but RTÉ reports that a recommendation will not be made by the court in time.

It is hoped that the GRA and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) might agree to defer the strike pending a ballot of members.

However, as it stands, strikes will go ahead on November 4, 11, 18 and 25.

Approximately 10,500 rank-and-file gardaí and 2,000 garda sergeants and inspectors will withdraw from work.

The GRA stated emergency services would be available but there will be no gardaí answering calls in stations, no gardaí on the beat and no interaction with the public.

3. Who will police the country?

It is possible that senior management will call in Garda Reservists to support them on the day. There are currently 789 reservists in the state.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Jack Nolan insisted on Wednesday that 450 student gardaí would be available, as would 400 probation members and 220 senior officers.

It is expected that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan will communicate with the public about “contingency plans” later today.

Read more: Facts about how much gardaí are really paid must be central in talks

4. What will happen when I call 999?

In response to this question, a garda spokesman said: "There are mechanisms in place for resolving these matters. The Garda Commissioner would encourage all bodies to remain engaged. The best outcome for all involved, including the public is that these issues are resolved."

5. Will the airports have to close?

Passport control in Terminal 1 of Dublin Airport is civilianised and will not be affected by the strike.

The Garda National Immigration Bureau operates passport control at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport and in Shannon and Cork airports.

Without passport control in operation, these airports may have to close.

In a statement to Independent.ie, a Department of Justice spokesperson said: “The department is working closely with stakeholders including the Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Dublin Airport Authority in relation to immigration control at Dublin Airport and the options for dealing with the planned Garda action in the event that it goes ahead.

“Immigration control at other approved airports in the State is an operational matter for An Garda Síochána who is dealing with this as part of their overall contingency planning.”

Read more: Enormous gulf between undervalued lower ranks and senior managers at the heart of crisis

6. Why are gardaí taking industrial action?

Gardaí have decided to strike due to a row over pay and conditions.

Many gardaí feel they have been hard done by compared to other public servants.

New recruits claim that their current wage is unliveable and that they have been left out of union talks.

7. What do they want?

AGSI say they have three key demands:

- A pay restoration of 16.5pc   

- Access to direct pay negotiations, the Workplace Relations Commission and Labour Court for future pay deals

- Recognition and implementation of the EU social committee's decision in 2013 that gardaí should have that access plus the right to strike.

8. Is it illegal for gardaí to strike?

The law states that it is a crime for garda members to induce others to strike.

However, the GRA and AGSI have managed to get around this by repeatedly stating that the days of industrial action have been presented as a decision taken by each individual member.

The leadership of both organisations have also pointed out that nobody has been induced by anyone to take a collective action.

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