Monday 19 February 2018

Gardai call for postponement of 'punishing' pay freeze as over 100 face losing €2,000

Garda Representative Association accused Mr Donohoe of refusing to meet them
Garda Representative Association accused Mr Donohoe of refusing to meet them

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

Gardai have called on the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe to postpone a “punishing” pay freeze as over 100 of them face losing €2,000 next week.

At a protest outside his department this morning, members of the Garda Representative Association accused Mr Donohoe of refusing to meet them as they held banners that read “Garda Pay Back Now”.

They said the pay freeze that will affect 6,500 gardai and their families is an unfair “punishment” for their refusal to sign up to the Lansdowne Road agreement.

GRA President, Ciaran O’Neill, said the department is insisting they sign up to this agreement when the government had not completed its part of the old public sector deal, the Haddington Road deal. It wants a review of their pay and conditions that was promised under the old deal to be finalised before they will consider signing up.

The association also objects to the fact that gardai would have to start working an extra 30 hours a year under the new agreement.

This morning, gardai protesting outside Mr Donohoe’s department in Dublin said members’ pay should not be frozen until the pay review, which starts today, is complete.

“There has been some progress on the review and it is starting later on today so the timeline that we are seeking for a reprieve is only a couple of months and not indefinitely,” said GRA President Ciaran O’Neill.

“We are seeking to have the same rights and entitlements of every other worker in this country and we should not be punished for broken promises.”

Thousands of gardai and teachers are subject to a pause in any wage hikes for failing to sign up to the Lansdowne Road deal, under emergency legislation since July 1.

The association has warned that its 10,500 rank and file members will not cooperate with a €200m plan to bring the garda force up to date in protest at the pay freeze.

The modernisation plan aims to update the force with new initiatives including:

*a new division to investigate cyber crime, including online fraud, paedophilia and illegal trading.

*the introduction of community policing teams

*new record management systems and more use of advanced technology including electronic tracking of criminal investigations from crime scenes to courts, greater use of forensic evidence and DNA.

*an electronic exhibit management system to ensure evidence including CCTV footage, computers and statements do not go missing.

The Lansdowne Road agreement allows public servants to get some restoration of pay cuts taken during the crisis years, worth in the region of €2,000 each.

But the organisations outside the deal object to working extra hours, which amount to 30 extra hours a year for gardai and 33 for secondary school teachers.

The GRA also wants the promised pay review to be finalised first in the hope that issues including pay for new recruits and its members’ negotiating rights will be dealt with first.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has agreed a deal with the Department of Justice. It means it is recommending the Lansdowne Road agreement to its members and will reballot them shortly.

In return, sergeants and inspectors will get paid their annual increments until at least August, when the ballot result is due.

The deal means that they must work the extra 30 hours but it promises that the pay review will be complete within six months.

Under the same deal, which was offered to the GRA, they would win back a rent allowance worth over €4,000-a-year for new recruits if they sign up.

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