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The Garda strike tomorrow is OFF: GRA joins AGSI in deferring action

A long, difficult day of negotiations has come to an end.

Updated at 12.10am 

TOMORROW’S THREATENED GARDA strike has been called off following late night decisions by representative bodies the AGSI and the GRA.

The process went down to the wire, with the GRA decision coming less than eight hours before the scheduled 7am start time for the strike.

10,500 members of the rank-and-file organisation, along with 2,000 members of the higher-ranked AGSI, had been threatening to withdraw their labour tomorrow and on three other days in November in a row over pay and access to the State’s industrial relations mechanisms.

The GRA’s decision to defer its action was taken after a very close vote. 20 members of its executive committee, the CEC, backed the deferral. 17 voted against. The vote by AGSI officials was unanimous.

Recommendations from the Labour Court will now be put the membership of each body for a vote.

Teams from the GRA and AGSI were called back to the Dublin 4 court earlier this evening to receive recommendations aimed at ending the dispute – a surprise move, as it had been expected those recommendations would issue tomorrow.

The GRA

GRA President Ciaran O’Neill, speaking to reporters on his way in, said hearing from the Labour Court had been a “welcome development”.

O’Neill met with his colleagues across town in Phibsboro from around 8.30pm as they pored over the revised proposals. Word later filtered out that the committee was split on what to do.

03/10/2016. Garda . Pictured (Center to R) GRA Pre GRA President Ciaran O'Neill and General Secretary Pat Ennis emerge bleary-eyed from their Phibsboro HQ following late night talks. Source: Sam Boal

The GRA had said in a statement last night that any non-binding recommendation from the Labour Court would be put to members for a ballot – and O’Neill reiterated that policy earlier this evening.

It’s understood the recommendation to the GRA would cost the State significantly more than the €30 million settlement that had earlier been rejected by the organisation.

The AGSI 

The AGSI’s session at the Labour Court ended later than the GRA’s, but its top officials were out with a statement deferring their action much sooner.

Shortly after the Garda Press Office had released a statement of its own on contingency plans for tomorrow (noting that it was expected only 78 of the State’s 564 Garda stations would be open) the following press release was issued:

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors have decided to ballot members on proposals from The Labour Court at a late night meeting of their National Executive.
This move means that planned industrial action for tomorrow morning has been suspended.

The association’s President Antoinette Cunningham said that “a fundamental and historic wrong” had been put right “as a direct result of the sustained four-year AGSI campaign to gain access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court”.

She added:

This has always been a key part of our commitment to members and that commitment intensified in recent weeks.
The AGSI have gained an uplift in the income of all our members, the details of which will be circulated to the National Executive and membership and will be subsequently balloted upon.

3/11/2016. Garda Strike. Garda Commissioner Noirin The Garda Commissioner speaks to reporters. Source: Leah Farrell

Commissioner

In a brief press conference earlier this evening (and as talks were still ongoing) Garda Commissioner Noirín O Sullivan moved to reassure the public, telling reporters that garda members would be on duty tomorrow.

Flanked by senior officers, she said that the force would have “members of all ranks working right around the country”.

“I want to thank those members for the work that they will do tomorrow and the challenges they will meet, the policing and security challenges that they meet every single day.”

The men and women of the gardaí and their families had endured hardships and challenges over the last number of years, she said.

And despite that they have stood up, they have done their duty.

The Commissioner issued a directive on Tuesday of this week ordering members to show up for work. Superintendents were asked to contact each garda individually to ask them if they will be available for work.

Justice Minister statement

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald issued a statement in the wake of the AGSI decision welcoming the body’s move.

She added:

This has been an intensive period of negotiation with AGSI and I would like to commend all who have been involved in these complex discussions for engaging in this process in
good faith and for their commitment to finding a resolution.
The part played by the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court in seeking to resolve this dispute has been invaluable and I want to express my thanks to them.

The Tánaiste, according the statement from her department, “reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to introducing legislative change to give the Garda associations the right of access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court”.

A statement from Fitzgerald on the GRA’s decision is expected later (and is likely to include similar language).

Earlier, the GRA had said that only a skeletal service would be on duty tomorrow, as it issued a statement “respectfully suggesting” that a number of specialised units, including armed units, did not take part in the strike.

That statement issued by the Garda Press Office before the late night decisions from the two representative bodies had instructed the public not to call 999 tomorrow or to call into stations unless there was an emergency.

It added that “witnessing passport applications” would not be facilitated and urged road users to “take personal responsibility” and “be respectful to each other”.

Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan, in a statement released at ten to midnight, said the Irish public “should never again be put in a position where they are exposed to the risk of losing Garda protection”.

Sick of reading about the Garda strike? Bruce Springsteen will be on tomorrow night’s Late Late >

Here’s something else you might enjoy: Major megalithic art find at Hellfire Club passage tomb >

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