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Disgruntled gardaí vent anger over new digital clocking-in system at Shankill meeting

Around 50 officers attended a meeting in Shankill Garda Station on Monday evening.

Image: Shutterstock/abd

SOME RANK-AND-file members of An Garda Síochána based in south Dublin have threatened to boycott a new time management system which would allow central management see exactly when they have clocked in and out, TheJournal.ie has learned. 

A meeting took place at Shankill Garda Station on Monday night which, according to sources, descended into a shouting match between a number of officers. 

The president of the Garda Representative Association, Jim Mulligan, was in attendance and pleaded with some members to accept the changes to the system. 

DMR East, which comprises of stations including Shankill, Dun Laoghaire, Blackrock and Dundrum, has been trialling the new system.

Under it, each garda member must sign in and out digitally as their day begins and ends. Management can now see exactly who’s booked on and at what time.

Some sources say gardaí believe the change represents the removal of ‘good will’. Gardaí had previously been able to use their parading time (15 minutes pre shift) to conduct a handover. They are now expected to be in prior to this time. 

Tensions in the district have been increasing since the introduction of the trial system earlier this year. 

However, frustrations boiled over recently when it emerged that the pilot programme was to be extended for another 10 weeks. 

As a result of this news, members demanded an urgent meeting with GRA president Jim Mulligan to discuss their worries. Around 50 or so gardaí attended that meeting this week, where they aired their views.

Members have now threatened to boycott the time management system from 14 October (Sunday of next week). 

‘No faith’

A document sent to members prior to Monday’s meeting, seen by TheJournal.ie, described how many rank-and-file members in the district have become disillusioned with their GRA representation. 

It read: “We, as a collective, feel completely unrepresented and are disillusioned with the current GRA representatives and the position we are left in. 

“We are insisting that an open meeting be called in Shankill Garda Station where we can air our concerns directly to Jim Mulligan. There is a lack of faith in his leadership and that of the local GRA representative and we feel if they are not in a position to represent the members in a proper manner, then they should step aside.” 

Despite the position of many members within DMR East, the system being trialled has benefits from a broader management perspective. 

The new rota system, which is also currently in use in Manchester and London, allows management to see exactly who is working, where and when. It has allowed management to redeploy members who are needed for one-off events without having to pay extra in overtime. 

For example, if there is a football match on in Dublin, local management would be able to redirect members, who are already on duty and stationed nearby, to patrol the game without having to pay overtime hours.

A spokeswoman for the Garda Press Office said: “We are currently piloting the new duty and roster management system in Dun Laoghaire. The system will enhance local policing by making it easier for Garda members to be deployed when and where they are needed most to prevent and detect crime. 

“We are not in a position to comment on meetings that we are not party to.

“In general, the idea of any pilot is to test a system in a live environment and identify if and where the system can be enhanced. Feedback from Garda members and Garda management using the system will continue to be sought during the pilot period.” 

A spokesperson for the GRA said: “The GRA has signed up to both The Working Time Agreement (WTA) in September 2012 and the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) 2018-20. Amongst other matters, s.2.5 of the PSSA specifies that, “electronic time and attendance systems are an ongoing feature of best organisational practice in delivering efficient and responsive public services in the context of business needs.”

The spokesperson’s statement insisted that nobody present at Monday’s meeting had complained about the actual process of logging on or off the new system, and insisted that no deadline had been set for the boycott. 

The statement added: “The GRA has committed to the new RDMS system and appreciate the advantages of such a system from a Garda deployment perspective. Once the pilot has been completed, the GRA will access feedback from its members whom used the system. In this regard, the PSSA Agreement states that once any such systems are introduced there will be full consultation on this with relevant parties and any changes made will be agreed. In the event of any dispute, this shall be referred to the LRA Oversight Body in the final instance.”

This article was updated at 5.30pm to include the GRA’s statement.

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