Strike force: Sergeants, inspectors to join gardaí for series of unprecedented strikes
AGSI decision scuppers Cabinet back-up plan for policing nation’s streets
The Government has been plunged into a policing crisis by the decision of Garda sergeants and inspectors to refuse to work on the four days of strike action planned by their rank-and-file colleagues next month.
The move effectively dismantles contingency plans drawn up by Garda authorities and means no officers will be available to supervise recruits or reservists if they are asked to police the streets of the nation.
The leadership of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) decided "overwhelmingly" in favour of supporting the protest at a special conference in Athlone yesterday.
Individual members will withdraw labour on November 4, 11, 18 and 25 to coincide with the Garda Representative Association's industrial relations action for "maximum impact".
And AGSI's industrial action will begin as early as this Friday when members will refuse to log on to the Garda Pulse system. The following Friday, October 28, AGSI members will refuse to undertake any administrative duties such as detailing members for duty.
Members insisted they were not going on strike but were "withdrawing labour" on the four Fridays of November.
Legal advice was given to conference delegates that they were not breaking the law by withdrawing labour.
This is the first time the two associations have opted to refuse to work, as only GRA members were involved in the 'Blue Flu' action in 1998.
Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said last night she was disappointed, particularly as AGSI had not balloted its members and only seven weeks ago had voted to accept the Lansdowne Road Agreement by over 70pc.
Ms Fitzgerald called for negotiation: "I remain focused on finding a pathway to negotiate with AGSI in a way which is fair to their members, the taxpayer and other public sector workers."
AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said the time for talking was over and accused the official side of reneging on their part of the deal.