Friday 23 February 2018

Extra pay on table for gardaí in attempt to head off strike

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s department would not comment on whether gardaí would be paid during the industrial action. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s department would not comment on whether gardaí would be paid during the industrial action. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Anne-Marie Walsh and Tom Brady

Gardaí may receive a cash boost for taking on extra work, under proposals tabled at talks to avert the threat of four strikes from Friday week.

Ongoing talks could provide a route to a deal that would provide officers with more pay but would not be seen as breaching the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Sources revealed that productivity measures were being discussed at negotiations between the Garda Representative Association and Department of Justice.

Union negotiators and officials are scouring draft proposals agreed with the department last month, but rejected by Garda delegates at a special conference.

"They are looking through the document that was rejected to see if they can tweak it to find something that is acceptable to the Garda Representative Association, without breaching the Lansdowne Road Agreement," said a source close to the talks.

The source said some form of compensation might be offered for changes accepted by gardaí that were already in train or planned. They include altered rosters and the introduction of an updated version of the Garda's Pulse computer system.

They also include productivity in relation to aspects of the Garda Commissioner's Modernisation and Renewal Programme, and co-operation with the expansion of the Garda Reserve's powers through mentoring and supervision.

Several of these measures were outlined in the deal previously rejected by representatives of 10,500 rank-and-file officers.

The deal noted that these measures "are outside the scope of change encompassed in the Lansdowne Road Agreement".

Other proposals being mulled over include the introduction of a 39-hour week. Gardaí are the only public sector group to work 40 hours. The way their overtime is calculate is also being examined so that it might be divided by 39 hours.

The association also wants a clear roadmap for the reversal of the pay cuts imposed under emergency legislation during the financial crisis.

The deal would have restored a rent allowance worth over €4,000 to new entrants and mean gardaí would get refunds of increments that were frozen because they refused to back the Lansdowne Road pact.

The Garda Representative Association met department officials at a secret location yesterday ahead of a crucial meeting today.

Its central executive committee will assess whether progress is being made at talks and prepare for the first strike in its history on November 4.

Gardaí will not report for duty on every Friday next month, despite being legally restricted from going on strike in a dispute over pay rises and industrial relations rights.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors also met the department yesterday, but has not struck a deal.

It plans to go ahead with a second day of industrial action tomorrow by refusing to operate the Pulse system and carry out administrative duties.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice would not comment on whether any gardaí would be paid during the industrial action. Some officers are expected to provide emergency cover. Union sources said the issue had not yet been discussed.

Analysis: Special deals nothing new as public sector wage agreement continues to unravel

Separately, Garda Representative Association general secretary Pat Ennis has written to the central executive committee warning that it is of "vital importance" that members are not seen to entice or induce other members not to go to work.

He noted that it was delegates at a special conference who decided on the days of industrial action, not individual members. As a result, he said they must be protected, along with the association, "as we approach this crucial and unprecedented juncture".

Mr Ennis said any talk of strikes could cause unwarranted problems for the association and there would be no picket lines.

He said it was possible that the State could refer the dispute to the Labour Court or Workplace Relations Commission.

Irish Independent

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