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Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Emergency service workers to join ICTU marches in "large numbers"

Organisations representing frontline workers have said the march is an opportunity for members to show their opposition to recent government proposals.

MEMBERS OF THE 24/7 Frontline Alliance, which is made up of organisations representing Gardaí, firefighters, healthcare workers and prison officers, are expected to turn out in large numbers at today’s ICTU protest.

Today The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is holding coordinated ‘Not Our Debt’ protests in six counties across the country to protest  the nationalisation of banking debts. Most of the marches will begin at around 1.30pm.

Speaking to this morning, General Secretary of the Garda Sergeants and Inspectors Association (AGSI) John Redmond said that, while many of his members will be working today, those who can make it will attend.

“There are buses coming from all over the country to the march in Dublin so we’re expecting several hundred to turn up,” he said.

It’s vital for emergency workers to get out on the streets today. This march is twofold. First of all, it allows everyone in society to have an opportunity to protest austerity but it also lets the government see the feeling from public sector workers and all workers. When our members turn out in force, it will show them that we weren’t bluffing in the talks when we said we were acting under the directions of those members.

Last week, Gardaí in Cork City balloted for industrial action and voted unanimously for a ‘blue flu’, which involves officers calling in sick en masse. Redmond said that while AGSI members would never want to take action that would put the public in harm’s way, they have said they are “willing to withdraw their labour if it comes to it”.

“Most likely, if action was taken, it would be a work to rule situation,” he said. “Members often take on up to fourteen roles as well as their own and operating a work to rule would still involve doing their job, just not going out of their way.”

A spokesperson for the Irish Nurses and Midiwives Association (INMO) told that the association also expects a “large turnout” from members.

“This is an opportunity to demonstrate for the average person that they are not prepared to pay bad debts in banks when their own wages are being cut arbitrarily,” the spokesperson said.

The Garda Representatives Association (GRA) decided not to take part in the marches today, though members from the other organisations in 24/7, including the AGSI, will be in attendance.

A GRA spokesperson told that the organisation did not attend due a number of matters coming up in the next two weeks , saying their priority had to be dealing with the issues at hand. The spokesperson also said a general march would not highlight the uniqueness of their working conditions.

Related: AA warns of traffic disruptions over ICTU debt marches>
Read: AGSI demands ‘actions not words’ from Noonan over garda pay talks>

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