Monday 20 November 2017

Garda strikes averted as pay deal is agreed

New recruits to get €4,000 as gardai 'flexible' over extra hours

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Mark Condren
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Mark Condren

Anne Marie Walsh and Philip Ryan

Gardai have struck a deal with the Department of Justice which could see pay increments return and result in new recruits receiving a lucrative rent allowance worth more than €4,000.

The deal brokered late last Friday night includes a commitment by gardai to work additional hours and officially sign up to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

It is understood the extra hours worked, which had been 30 a year under a previous deal, will be decided during consultations with the Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan. Sources familiar with the agreement said there will be "flexibility" around the number of extra hours gardai will have to work under the deal.

A €4,017 rent allowance will be paid to new recruits in two tranches as part of the agreement.

There have been months of negotiations between the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Department of Justice over the pay deal.

The GRA recently balloted 10,500 members on their willingness to engage in industrial action despite legislation prohibiting gardai from striking.

The secret ballot voting papers were sent to members earlier this month and the deadline for returning votes is tomorrow evening at 5pm.

It is widely expected that gardai will have voted in favour of industrial action.

The threat of a so-called 'blue flu' or all-out industrial action by gardai has hung over the country for months. Strike warnings came as gardai sought to clamp down on the worst gang wars in the country's history and followed a spate of crime in rural Ireland.

However, after months of talks, it now seems a deal has been reached between the Garda representative body and the Department of Justice.

The GRA will ballot its members on the new agreement after it is considered by the Association's 31-member Central Executive Committee tomorrow and a delegate conference on Wednesday.

An internal message sent to members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) said negotiations which began on July 14 concluded last Friday night.

"A draft agreement will be finalised over the weekend and will be available for presentation to the CEC on Monday morning [tomorrow]," it stated. "Having consulted with the general secretary a special meeting of the GRA CEC is to be convened for Monday the 26th of September to discuss same," it added.

Gardai refused to sign up to the Lansdowne Road Agreement as they insisted the Government had not fulfilled commitments under the previous pay deal - the Haddington Road Agreement.

The Department of Justice yesterday refused to comment on negotiations with the GRA.

If the deal is agreed with gardai, it will mean the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) will be the only union continuing to refuse to sign up to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Last week, Education Minister Richard Bruton called on the ASTI to sign up to the pay deal as the threat of industrial action continues to loom for secondary school students in the coming months.

Mr Bruton told the teachers' union that pay and conditions could be discussed under the terms of Lansdowne Road.

In a letter to the ASTI, the minister said deals were agreed with the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) and the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) after they signed up to the pay agreement.

The ASTI has balloted 18,000 members on industrial action which will see teachers stop doing supervision and substitution work.

If a deal is not reached with the union, strikes in October and November could result in school closures. The ASTI is seeking better pay for newly qualified teachers.

Sunday Independent

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