Friday 23 March 2018

More gardai vote for 'blue flu' protest over pay cuts

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

HUNDREDS more gardai have voted in favour of a campaign of "blue flu" in protest at proposed wage cuts.

Members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) in Tipperary joined colleagues in Cork and Limerick in supporting the drastic action.

And in Kerry and the major Dublin Metropolitan Region – North – there was discussion about an imminent work-to-rule at packed meetings last night.

Meetings are taking place around the country this week, with votes in favour of "blue flu" also passed last night in Tipperary and Kerry as gardai seek to resist more cutbacks.

The force of anger from gardai will heap pressure on Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

The divisions that have already voted to take part in a "blue flu" protest could set a precedent for other regions with a series of further local GRA meetings taking place today.

Votes on work-to-rule action are taking place in divisions all around the country ahead of a meeting of the GRA central executive tomorrow.

More than 200 rank-and-file gardai met in Thurles last night. They voted for action including a "blue flu" if the Government presses ahead with proposed cuts to pay and allowances. The meeting passed three votes of no confidence – in Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the Justice Minister and Garda Commissioner. Meanwhile, GRA members in Co Kerry also voted for action.

Gardai are not allowed to take formal strike action but say they feel pushed into a corner and must protest against the latest round of cuts.

Anger is mounting in the force, which was asked to contribute more than €60m, or 6pc, of the €1bn in savings sought under a new Croke Park deal.

But the GRA, which represents the country's 13,424 rank-and-file gardai, last week decided it would not engage in the talks on pay cuts.

In doing so, it followed the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, representing 2,000 officers, which pulled out of the talks one week earlier.

The "blue flu" protest was first deployed in May 1998 when large numbers of officers took sick leave in protest over pay and conditions.

Then Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne described it as a "black day" for the force, but within weeks a pay increase had been negotiated.

Irish Independent

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