Gardaí now at vanguard of challenge to pay policy
Some disputes were likely as the economy recovered, but nobody would have predicted gardaí being on the front line. The financial crash which erupted suddenly in the autumn of 2008, and reduced tax revenue by one-third, represented the largest economic shock for the State since independence and the biggest challenge for the trade union movement in its history.
More than 300,000 people lost their jobs in the private sector, and private sector unions lost members and subscription incomes, while members of public sector unions were confronted with unprecedented pay cuts of the order of 17pc over the space of 15 months.
Given the scale of the crisis, there was little that could be done to stem the job losses, and while unions in the public sector challenged the government's approach through industrial action, the best that could be achieved was an agreement to make savings without further pay cuts and to secure commitments about future pay restoration.