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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Alamy Stock Photo Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has declared an industrial relations dispute.

Garda sergeants and inspectors to hold 'day of action' next week over rosters dispute

Both the AGSI and the GRA had voted against accepting new working time arrangements for gardaí.

THE ASSOCIATION OF Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) will hold a series of so-called ‘days of action’ in response to the ongoing industrial relations dispute over proposed rosters. 

The association met in an “unprecedented” special delegate conference today to decide how to respond to the dispute. 

Both garda representative groups, AGSI as well as the Garda Representative Association (GRA) had voted against accepting new working time arrangements for gardaí.

In a statement, the AGSI said the National Executive had been mandated to take action over “the failure of the Garda Commissioner to appropriately address health, safety and welfare concerns of its membership in relation to the Garda roster”.

The first day of action will be held on 13 March and will see 100 AGSI members representing each of their 31 branches and National Executive march to Garda headquarters and hand a letter to Commissioner Drew Harris outlining their concerns.

The second day of action will proceed if concerns raised are not addressed, the statement continued. 

“This is phase one of a two-part agreed strategy where the initial focus for the next four weeks’ will be on health, safety and welfare of the members of AGSI, and if matters are not addressed sufficiently this will elevate at the Annual Delegate Conference next month to phase two which will be a discussion on a mandate for all forms of industrial action.”

Speaking this afternoon, AGSI general secretary Antoinette Cunningham said members are “angry, upset and frustrated that just over five weeks from now they do not know what their work pattern is, a situation which would be unacceptable in any other workplace”.

“In March 2020 members moved overnight to a new roster to police the Covid-19 pandemic and undertakings by the Garda Commissioner that we would return to our normal working patterns have not been honoured,” she said.

“A ballot of the membership on new roster proposals was rejected by AGSI members in October 2022 and a dispute on the matter commenced then. AGSI have sought that roster negotiations are re-opened but the Garda Commissioner has refused to allow this.

“The membership is demanding action and the National Executive will deliver the very clear mandate that was issued to them today.”

The issue centres around work times which would see specialist gardaí, such as detectives, move to an office-based role working nine to five daily.

Gardaí affected by the change are unhappy with an arrangement which would see them working for seven straight days before receiving two rest days. 

The issue is around so-called “non-core” units which make up specialist gardaí such as detectives and community policing. In the new roster, they would work six days on/three days off, then seven days on/two day off and then seven days on/three days off.  

There are also concerns about the possible loss of allowances for working unsociable hours because they would not be expected to perform night duty. 

AGSI said its members had rejected the proposed new Garda Roster in November citing work-life balance issues, and a requirement to work up to an additional 47 days per year, for some members – they rejected the roster proposals by 63% in a ballot of members. 

The issue has caused disquiet in garda representative bodies for the last three years as negotiations were ongoing.  

In recent weeks it took a further turn as Commissioner Harris referred the roster dispute to the Workplace Relations Commission.

He claimed that all internal industrial relations processes had been exhausted.

AGSI called the special delegate conference today in Athlone for only the second time in the group’s 45-year history – 140 sergeants and inspectors from 31 branches across the country will take part.

AGSI said in a statement this morning that its membership are “stressed and anxious” about the uncertainty and lack of predictability caused by the dispute.

It said that Harris appears to have disregarded “previous concerns” raised by its members.

Additional reporting from Jane Moore

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