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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Alamy Stock Photo
Drew Harris

Garda group to push ahead with no confidence vote after meeting with Commissioner

A meeting this morning in Garda Headquarters and Drew Harris failed to reach agreement on the rosters dispute.

LAST UPDATE | 3 Aug 2023

A GROUP REPRESENTING rank and file gardaí said a meeting this morning with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris did not reach any agreement on their working hours dispute and they are pressing ahead with a no confidence ballot. 

Gardaí are currently engaged in a major industrial relations row with Harris over his decision to push through a working time roster they believe will adversely affect  members. 

Earlier this month the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said that the Commissioner “lacks logic” as he announced the reintroduction of a roster while they claim there are not enough gardaí to fulfill staffing levels of the new arrangement.

On 26 July the GRA leadership agreed on a motion to ballot members on a vote of no confidence in Harris.

This morning the group said they were summoned to Garda Headquarters to meet the Commissioner and senior garda management. 

In a statement the GRA said they were were informed that the meeting would be an opportunity to “discuss some of the concerns recently raised”.

“While certain issues such as resources, recruitment and suspensions were raised and discussed, we are disappointed to report that the central issue regarding rosters remains unresolved. In fact, the Commissioner reiterated his intention to revert to the pre-covid roster in November and stated that his team have already initiated the implementation of this.

“Commissioner Harris also informed our representatives of his dissatisfaction of the GRA’s Central Executive Committee’s decision to ballot its’ members on a vote of no confidence in his leadership, and questioned the intent of such a ballot.

“The ballot of members will now proceed as planned with the result expected within four to six weeks.”

The Commissioner’s response

In a lengthy statement confirming the meeting a spokesperson for the Garda Commissioner said that the GRA meeting was part of an series of meetings with representative bodies. 

“After An Garda Síochána received no formal notification of a forthcoming GRA ballot and learned of such a ballot through the media, Commissioner Harris and senior Garda managers met with a GRA delegation today in order to ascertain why such an extraordinary ballot is being undertaken,” the statement claimed. 

The garda statement said that at the meeting Harris “reiterated his desire and commitment to reach a collective agreement” with all Garda associations on a new roster.

He said he believed this could only be achieved through the Workplace Relations Commission.

“This follows no collective agreement on a new roster after three years of direct talks between Garda management and the Garda associations,” garda headquarters added. 

The Commissioner’s statement said that he outlined a range of measures being taken to address other issues raised by the GRA such as recruitment and measures to reduce administrative tasks.

He also listed out measures such as greater supervisors for operational gardaí and also mental health supports. 

Harris said that the organisation would end the four on four off roster in 6 November 2023.

He said that this roster, known as the “Westmanstown roster”, “had previously been agreed to by all Garda associations including the GRA”.

“Commissioner Harris has said that it is vital that whatever Garda roster is in place serves the public and supports the most vulnerable in society, ensures the health and wellbeing of Gardaí, and allows the Commissioner to effectively and efficiently manage the organisation within the budget available.

“Commissioner Harris said it was clear that the COVID-19 roster no longer meets those criteria,” the statement said.

Gardaí currently work a four on four off 12 hour shift pattern which was introduced as a temporary measure during Covid-19.

The GRA and AGSI argue that it will cause gardaí to work the proposed six days with four days off rotation – they have said it will cause hardship for members and adversely affect their standard of life, family routine and cost of living. 

Harris met with the garda groups earlier this month where he told them that he was implementing the roster regardless of their opposition.  

The roster will see gardaí come off a four on four off 12 hour shift rotation and put them on a six on four off 10 hour shift roster from 6 November.  

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