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Friday 24 January 2020

Civilians told not to take on extra work to cover for striking gardaí

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Tom Burke
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Tom Burke

Cathal McMahon and Anne-Marie Walsh

Civilians working in An Garda Síochána have been told not to do extra duties during the upcoming industrial action.

In a message to its members, the Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU) told the 1,200 civilian staff not to work 12-hour shifts to cover for striking gardaí.

It suggested they could show their support by joining them on the picket lines during breaks, although "that is a personal decision for each member to make".

When asked about the letter, general secretary Eoin Ronayne said the union had ruled out request by Garda management that civilian staff in some stations volunteer to work 12-hour shifts and carry out extra administrative tasks.

The civilian workers' refusal to provide backup will heighten Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's dilemma as she battles to find a resolution to the dispute over pay rises.

Contingency plans to police the country are not expected to be finalised until days before rank-and-file gardaí, sergeants and inspectors go on strike for the first time on Friday week.

The CPSU said reports were made by members of its Garda National Committee that civilian staff were being asked to do overtime to cover for officers who withdraw their labour.

"We are instructing our members not to make themselves available for duties which are not their normal work duty within our normal working hours patterns and not to do these duties on overtime or 12-hour tours either," said Mr Ronayne in his letter.

"We are considering a range of issues which appear to conflict with our overall policy of carrying out only our normal duties within our normal hours in our normal work locations."

In its message, the CPSU said it could not instruct its members to participate in any form of industrial action unless it had been approved by a ballot of its members. But it said members would recall one-day stoppages they held some years ago when members of other unions and the GRA and AGSI had passed their pickets.

Mr Ronayne said many of those unions' members had, however, joined the picket lines during their breaks.

"CPSU members may wish to display their support at this time in the same fashion... but that is a personal decision for each member to make," he said.

Talks with the Garda associations continued yesterday in a bid to avert strikes on four Fridays next month.

A spokesperson for the AGSI said there had been no breakthrough and it is set to go ahead with a second day of industrial action this Friday.

This will mean officers will not use the Pulse computer system or undertake any administrative duties, including detailing members for duty, or processing files or responding to correspondence from management.

Last Friday, they refused to log onto Pulse or engage in any related work.

Last week, civilians working at Dublin Airport passport control in Terminal 1 had been warned not to cover the shifts of Garda colleagues who man the posts at Terminal 2.

Irish Independent

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