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Garda strike still on: GRA say threat won't be lifted without 'significant' progress on pay

Any non-binding recommendation from the Labour Court will be put to members for a ballot, the GRA has said.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Updated at 9.15pm 

GARDA REPRESENTATIVE BODY the GRA has released a statement tonight confirming the threat of strikes over the next four Fridays remains in place.

The executive committee of the GRA met during a break in proceedings at the Labour Court this evening, and its negotiating team has since re-entered the court.

Any non-binding recommendation from the court will be put to members for a ballot, tonight’s statement said.

Here’s that statement in full:

The decision of Conference on Industrial action on the 4th, 11th, 18th & 25th November 2016 made on 28th September 2016 remains in place unless we hear of substantial and significant progress towards real and tangible increases in pay.
In order to progress the negotiations the GRA Central Executive Committee has agreed to ballot the membership of the GRA on any non binding recommendations of the Labour Court.
The Labour Court requires that the distribution of such ballot to the membership be agreed as a prerequisite before it can hear our case.
 The Association remains fully engaged in the negotiation process.

Along with the AGSI, which represents sergeants and inspectors, GRA members are planning to withdraw their labour on each Friday in November as part of the dispute over pay and access to industrial relations mechanisms.

The GRA brought their dispute to the Labour Court earlier today, while the AGSI will attend the same court tomorrow.

AGSI developments 

In a fresh development in the AGSI camp this evening, the body said it welcomed comments made by the Taoiseach earlier that he would ask the Attorney General to move to put the legal frameworks in place to allow gardaí have access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

“This is a victory for AGSI members as access to industrial relations machinery has been one of the key pillars of our pay campaign for the past four years,” AGSI President Antoinette Cunningham said in a statement.

It was also one of the key decisions of the European Committee of Social Rights in 2014.
We believe this is a significant step forward but we would caution that timeframes and exact dates are vital at this stage to give confidence to our 2,080 members.

Rejections 

Both the GRA and the AGSI this week rejected proposals put to them by government officials.

After their rejection of the deals, the two organisations were invited to a meeting with the Tánaiste and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and later accepted an invitation to the Labour Court.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, AGSI President Antoinette Cunningham said she was disappointed that 48 hours before the planned action, her organisation was still trying to find a resolution, saying:

I think it’s regrettable we find ourselves in the situation we are in.

Yesterday, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan issued a directive ordering all members of the force – including those due to be on rest days or leave – to report for duty on Friday, the first planned strike day.

She described the current situation as unprecedented and said the action could be “gravely damaging” for the delivering of policing, the organisation as a whole and each individual garda.

Sources have indicated many gardaí are likely to ignore the Commissioner’s directive. As a contingency, two 12-hour shifts will be introduced on the day.

Cunningham would not be drawn to comment on whether she would be ignoring the order. She said the negotiating team was focused on trying to find a resolution over the next two days.

That’s what the energies should be put into, rather than being provocative about disobeying orders.

Superintendents have now been asked to contact each member directly to ask them if they will be available for work.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said yesterday that those who do not show up for work face possible disciplinary action. They will also lose out on a day’s wages, she said.

- with reporting from Daragh Brophy 

Read: Garda Commissioner orders gardaí to work on strike day, calling it ‘unprecedented’ and ‘gravely damaging’>

Read: Strike likely to go ahead as rank-and-file gardaí unanimously reject proposals>

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