Saturday 7 December 2019

Gardaí have 'no choice' but industrial action on pay freeze

Garda Representative Association President Ciaran O'Neill
Garda Representative Association President Ciaran O'Neill

Anne-Marie Walsh and Katherine Donnelly

The president of the representative body for more than 10,600 gardaí has warned they will have “no choice” but to take industrial action if the Government freezes their wages from Friday.

Ciaran O’Neill revealed the Garda Representative Association (GRA) would start by refusing to co-operate with Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s new €200m Modernisation and Renewal programme.

The five-year plan aims to introduce advanced technology to tackle crime and increase the garda presence on the streets.

Although it is illegal for gardaí to take industrial action, he said the association was not ruling out a strike. It is also possible it could consider a “blue flu” style protest if the action escalates, in which gardaí would ring in sick in large numbers.

The threat comes after talks between the GRA and the Departments of Justice and Public Expenditure and Reform broke down. Talks collapsed primarily on the issue of gardaí working an extra 30 hours unpaid a year, which the association described as “scandalous” in the current economic climate.

The talks aimed to get the GRA and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors to sign up to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, which comes into force on Friday.

Secondary school teachers are also on a collision course with the Government.

The ASTI union yesterday accepted an invitation to talks with Education Minister Richard Bruton on the agreement. The 17,500-member union has rejected the deal and, on foot of that, voted to stop working 33 extra hours from September.

But there is no sign of any backing down, with the ASTI Standing Committee also issuing a directive to members to withdraw from the 33 hours when schools reopen.

If the row is not resolved, or on the way to being resolved before September, a refusal by ASTI members to work the 33 hours could trigger a formal dispute and lead to school closures.

Irish Independent

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