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Saturday 21 July 2018

Angry Garda supervisors get tough on inaction over strike rights

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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Garda frontline supervisors are to take a tougher stance on the failure of the Government to grant them the right to strike.

The move stems from rising anger in their ranks at Government inaction, and they have already sought legal advice on their options.

An EU ruling five years ago backed a complaint from the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) that its members were being denied their rights to go on strike, negotiate their own pay and take part in trade union action.

But since then, it says, it has made little progress in securing the Government implementation of the decision of the EU social rights committee.

Association leaders will today call on their members to step up their campaign to press the Government to implement the ruling.

The AGSI, led by president Antoinette Cunningham, will spell out its case to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan at the opening of its annual conference in Tullow, Co Carlow.

This is the first time in three years that a justice minister has addressed the conference.

After a threatened strike was called off by gardaí towards the end of 2016, the Government gave a commitment that the representative associations should have access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court and the right to participate in pay negotiations to ensure equality with other public sector workers.

However, the Government subsequently set up a working group, under former secretary general of the Department of Enterprise and Jobs John Murphy, to examine the Garda position, and the group found that gardaí should not be granted the right to strike.

The conference will be told today that without the right to strike, gardaí do not have equal status with other public sector workers when negotiating pay and conditions.

Association sources said last night that there had been growing resentment within its ranks at the way members were being treated, particularly the lack of consultation by the Murphy group, and the anger at the Government was now coming to a head.

In the wake of Storm Emma, the conference will also debate a motion calling for better equipment to deal with weather emergencies. In particular, it will underline the difficulties faced when looting in Fortunestown resulted in severe structural damage to a supermarket.

Irish Independent

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