GARDAI IN CORK city have tonight voted unanimously to pass a motion calling for industrial action over proposed pay cuts.
One hundred per cent of the Cork City Garda division present at a meeting this evening passed the motion. There were approximately 350 officers present at the meeting.
The move is the first such motion passed by a Garda division in the country since it emerged in a briefing document last week that the Department of Justice is looking to make savings of €60 million in the Garda pay bill over the next three years up to 2015. Just over €18m of those proposed savings are to be made in the second half of this year.
While it is illegal for gardai to go on an all-out strike, they could conduct a work-to-rule campaign, call in sick en masse – so-called ‘blue flu’ – or carry out other protests.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) held a meeting yesterday to discuss the proposed cuts and reiterated their position afterwards that they would accept no measures that would impact on either pay or conditions for their members. The GRA represents rank-and-file officers.
The association said:
The central executive committee of the GRA has rejected all such proposals that include a cut in Garda pay, and will not participate in any process that proposes such cuts.
It did, however, say that it was open to examining any revised proposals and cost-saving measures that did not impact on pay or hours.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) pulled out of talks a week and a half ago over a successor to the Croke Park Agreement when it was confirmed that cuts to allowances for working nights, weekends and bank holidays was on the table. AGSI general secretary John Redmond told TheJournal.ie at that time that “these allowances make up a very significant proportion of our members’ pay”.
The latest briefing document had revealed that the Government is requesting:
- that all public servants work one hour extra per day – including gardaí – and has outlined three options to cut overtime to save either €16 million, €14.5 million or €8 million by reducing overtime rates;
- that a standard working day run from 8am to 8pm and a cut be made to allowances for working Saturdays which would yield €4.3 million in savings;
- that there be a reduction in the Sunday premium and payment for public holidays which could save up to €31.5 million and that Good Friday become a standard working day, creating savings of €1.4 million;
- that night duty payments be cut to deliver another €13 million in savings.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had said yesterday that he was not aware of any plans for industrial action by gardai. Speaking at the launch of a new initiative aimed at tackling cyberbullying Callinan said:
I am on no notice that such an event [protests] is planned for the future. Obviously I would hope that something like that would not happen.
We are a professional policing service, we are the guardians of peace, our job is to ensure that we maintain that peace. Any form of industrial action would mitigate against providing that type of service. It’s not on.