Monday 20 November 2017

Garda Sergeants and Inspectors are now considering industrial action

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Anne-Marie Walsh

Garda Sergeants and Inspectors are now considering industrial action after their rank and file colleagues decided to take action in a row over their pay and conditions.

In a surprise move, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said it will meet members to discuss proposed industrial action.

The association has balloted in favour of the Lansdowne Road deal after reaching an agreement with the government during the summer.

It said it held a Special Executive meeting today to discuss the outcome of government meetings “at which significant garda pay matters” emerged.

President Antoinette Cunningham said AGSI is considering a campaign of Industrial action after what she described as “significant new information” came to light.

She said this related to the Public Service Commission on Pay and matters relating to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

"The National Executive met today and discussed at length the emerging issues and we now feel have no option but to call a Special Delegate Conference on October 17 in Athlone, where these matters will be discussed and proposals relating to industrial action will be considered," she said.

A draft deal that would have meant the end of a pay freeze and the restoration of a €4,017 rent allowance to new recruits was rejected at a conference in Tullamore this morning.

In a statement, the Garda Representative Association said delegates had unanimously rejected the draft proposal and it had been mandated by conference "to take up industrial action".

It said the association will discuss measures "in respect of industrial action" this afternoon.

The rejection of the proposal is a major blow for the government, which has been in negotiations with the rank and file’s representatives for months.

The government already faces the prospect of industrial action by teachers who are outside the Lansdowne Road deal.

The ASTI’s decision to ballot its members on withdrawing from supervision and substitution duties could close half the country’s secondary schools next month.

Earlier, gardai considered  emergency motions to reject the deal and hold an immediate ballot for industrial action.

Four emergency motions were tabled at the Special Delegate Conference attended by almost 200 Garda Representative Association delegates, representing 31 divisions.

The meeting comes after 95pc of members yesterday said they were willing to take a day or days of industrial action in a survey by the leadership, despite being legally restricted from doing so.

A motion from the Meath division calling for the rejection of last week’s pay proposal brokered with the Department of Justice and immediate action on its mandate for industrial action was accepted.

However, a motion by the Sligo/Leitrim division that the current pay negotiating team should be disbanded and any future negotiations handled by a new team was rejected.

The draft agreement reached last week means a freeze on garda pay increments would be lifted and they will get refunds of money taken since July 1.

A rent allowance of €4,017 would be restored to new recruits in two instalments once gardai cooperate with plans. These include the introduction of an armed response unit in the Dublin Metropolitan Region.

Gardai would have more flexibility in the way they work extra 15 extra hours and the promise of a 39-hour week. They currently work 40 hours a week.

In addition, they would get access to “future pay determination mechanisms” and the deal acknowledges that the association is seeking trade union rights under an independent Review.

But sources said the fact that they will essentially be working the same number of extra hours and the fact that there is no timetable for the restoration of €2bn pay cuts taken in the crisis years, were major obstacles.

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