Friday 15 November 2019

Support for action in gardai grows over €500 wage threat

Ralph Riegel, Tom Brady and Anne-Marie Walsh

RANK and file gardai will lose almost €500 in their monthly pay packets by the end of the year if they accept the Government's demands for further cuts.

The extent of the proposals tabled by the Government was revealed yesterday as gardai warned they would embark on a protest campaign.

And some of the more militant branches of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) indicated they would push for another 'blue flu' protest in which members fail to turn up for work en masse by reporting sick.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan admitted that he shared the concerns and frustrations of the young members of his force.

He said almost 60pc of the garda force had less than 10 years' service and and were now struggling to make ends meet having bought homes during the construction boom.

He added that some gardai were understandably angry at the proposed pay reductions.

Mr Callinan was commenting on the outcome of a tension-filled meeting of Cork city rank and filers on Tuesday night.

The gardai voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new 'blue flu' and also passed votes of no confidence in Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Mr Callinan.

An association source said: "There was absolute fury at the meeting. Gardai feel they are being victimised and cannot afford to take any more cuts."

Mr Callinan said that despite their anger, the commitment of the gardai remained, noting the seizure two nights ago of cocaine worth almost €500,000 as an example of that.

Members of the GRA and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors claim they have been warned by the Government that the cutbacks would become effective from July, with or without agreement.

The Irish Independent understands the cutback proposals would result in a reduction of €80 a week in pay and allow-ances from July with a further €50 cut planned from January 1 next. An additional reduction of another €50 from January 2015 is also in the pipeline.

The GRA said worst-hit members would lose a total of €170 a week, or €680 a month.

Some of the GRA branches in Dublin are also pressing their central executive committee to adopt a more hardline stance.

Position

A spokesman for the GRA reiterated the group's position that it would not take part in any process that proposed such wage cuts.

Meanwhile, the Prison Officers Association warned it would also pull out of the Croke Park talks if the Government continued a strategy of cutting allowances, overtime and premium payments for frontline workers.

General secretary John Clinton said it was grossly unfair that employees who were asked to work Sundays, bank holidays and even Christmas Day should see those payments hit.

The 24/7 Frontline Services Alliance will begin lobbying TDs and senators on the impact of the measures this weekend.

It decided yesterday to send a document to Public Reform Minister Brendan Howlin detailing the impact of the measures on frontline staff.

The alliance claims the Government's strategy to reduce payments on Saturday and Sunday, and cut night duty and evening shift payments, will disproportionally hit the income of frontline workers.

Last night, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said "any solution" to the plan to deliver €1bn savings "will encompass all public servants" and that "the minister's stated aim has always been to protect the core pay of low- and middle-income earners".

editorial comment

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News