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Saturday 21 April 2018

Top gardaí take industrial action in the latest pay row to hit force

Superintendents won't accept extra work

Letter: Dónall Ó Cualáin
Letter: Dónall Ó Cualáin
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Senior Garda officers have taken the unprecedented step of industrial action in a move that has caused the public sector pay row to resurface.

The organisation representing Garda superintendents has told Garda management that its members will not take on any additional duties from today, as other senior gardaí consider following suit.

The Irish Independent can reveal that senior gardaí have also pulled out of a planned meeting with management about policing this Thursday, as tensions within the force re-erupt.

The row centres on a side deal that was allegedly struck between the Government and senior gardaí in November 2016 - during the time rank-and-file officers were planning to go on strike.

Central to the side deal was the removal of an anomaly that caused superintendents to take a €4,000-€6,000 reduction in their pay on promotion from the rank of inspector.

Sources say removing the anomaly would cost the State €1m per annum.

Superintendents also claim to have twice been refused access to the Labour Court - despite previous assurances from Government that access would be extended to all gardaí.

The organisation also said it was under the clear understanding that the deal struck by other Garda unions, the GRA and AGSI, in November 2016 would also apply to its members.

The deal brokered at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) averted strike action that the Government feared could have had untold consequences.

But after a series of interactions with the Department of Justice, superintendents say the Government has not honoured its side of the agreement.

The decision to embark on industrial action was formally communicated to both Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Acting Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin in a letter sent by the Association of Garda Superintendents.

In the letter, seen by the Irish Independent, the association's general secretary Denis Ferry confirms that his members will withdraw from all additional duties from today.

A planned meeting this Thursday with Garda management about the issue of policing will now be cancelled after superintendents refused to attend.

"We will continue to fulfil our duties as per legislation to the highest standards, but regrettably will not engage with the modernisation and renewal programme until the issue is resolved," Supt Ferry said.

Supt Ferry added that his organisation was willing to go to the WRC in order to resolve the matter.

It's understood that the organisation representing chief superintendents is prepared to follow suit and engage in its own work-to-rule.

The refusal by senior gardaí to take on extra duties will prove deeply concerning for the Government, and could spark a wave of action in the future.

It is the first time in the history of the State that Garda officers have engaged in industrial action.

Sources close to Garda headquarters said the move was a matter of serious concern, particularly if chief superintendents take the same approach in the coming days.

Politically, it also represents the first big test in 2018 for Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Mr Flanagan.

Irish Independent

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