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Review says gardaí should face pension losses if they go on strike

The government had committed to the review in the Haddington Road Agreement.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

GARDA ASSOCIATIONS HAVE criticised the pay review completed by former Labour Court chairman John Horgan, which includes a recommended penalty for taking part in industrial action.

The government had committed to the review in the Haddington Road Agreement but the report has only now been completed after several delays.

As part of the review, Horgan looked at current garda earnings across all ranks. He concluded the average pay for all members last year was €63,450, before tax.

  • For a garda, the average annual earning was €63,327, before tax;
  • For a sergeant it was €72, 690;
  • For an inspector it was €85, 423;
  • For a superintendent it was €87. 699;
  • For a chief superintendent it was €101, 161.

He also made estimates of the change in pay scales after the recent Labour Court deal comes into effect:

Horgan told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke this morning that figures in the report were “rough and ready estimates” and he has now come up against criticism from the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI).

The association said, this approach was “irresponsible given his position” and claimed the figures were “grossly over-estimated”.

Overtime

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) also pointed out that the report notes the reduction in numbers in the force, which have skewed CSO figures on the average garda wage.

“Overtime for many gardaí has been a necessity for the force to remain operational. Unfortunately, this presents inflated earnings for those working long hours and extra shifts that is not reflective of the national pattern,” the association said.

To ignore optimum staffing levels makes other pertinent calculations difficult; the level of personal risk experienced by each individual garda, the increased workload and necessary overtime required within an understaffed police force and the impact on health, safety, efficiency and welfare at work.

Pension losses

In a controversial move, Horgan also recommended a severe penalty be introduced for individual members of An Garda Síochána who engage in industrial action, which see them subject to a five year ban on pension accrual.

He said action by gardaí would have “enormous consequences for the public”.

Strikes should not happen in the police force, especially as this is a monopoly service and the national security service is part of the police service.

The AGSI described this as “an emotional knee-jerk reaction to the threat by individual people to withdraw their labour”.

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“The main recommendation is around penalties for gardaí if strike action is taken in the future. But surely, the framework to prevent threatened strike is what the report should have dealt with and not penalties based on the lack of clear industrial relations mechanisms,” AGSI President Antoinette Cunningham said.

‘Generous’

Speaking to RTÉ earlier, Horgan described the garda pension scheme as “generous even by public sector standards”.

However, the GRA said the garda pension was, in a sense, “deferred payment for work already done”.

When members sign up in Templemore their pension entitlement is part of their contract, and they contribute towards it monetarily – and through the risks that they take on behalf of the people of this country. Not only are safety and welfare issues often at the very base of their needs when facing imminent danger of assault or the cumulative physiological effects of rotational shift working

“The garda pension has often been curtailed early – with many members succumbing to critical illnesses resulting from occupational hazards. This cannot be quantified but cannot be discounted in any review of the garda pension scheme,” the association added.

Read: It’s a yes: Rank-and-file gardaí have voted to accept the pay deal>

Read: ‘I am astonished’: Condemnation by gardaí of “mutiny” comments made by public pay chairman>

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