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Dublin: 15°C Sunday 17 October 2021

Gardaí suspend three further strike days pending ballot on pay deal

The GRA’s central executive committee met at its Dublin headquarters today.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE GARDA REPRESENTATIVE Association (GRA), which represents rank-and-file members of the force, has suspended the three further strike days planned for this month, pending a ballot of members on a set of Labour Court recommendations.

The association’s central executive committee met at its Dublin headquarters today to discuss the proposals handed down by the Labour Court on Thursday. Their first labour withdrawal had been due to take place the next day, but the committee voted to defer the action late Thursday night.

The GRA has been burdened since Thursday afternoon by an internal row that has delayed progress in the dispute and today’s meeting saw six members of the committee walk out. A motion of no confidence in the general secretary, Pat Ennis, was tabled this morning, but members were told it would not be heard until a presentation on the Labour Court proposals was given.

Tweet by @Michelle Hennessy Source: Michelle Hennessy/Twitter

The row centres around the decision by the officer board – the GRA’s top officials – just after noon on Thursday to announce a list of 18 units that were being asked to report for duty on the day of the first strike.

This followed a meeting with garda management, in which it is alleged GRA representatives were told the Minister for Justice would have to implement martial law. The board agreed the list with management, called a press conference at its headquarters and announced which units were being asked to provide cover for the day. Some of the 31-strong committee took issue with the sequence of events being undertaken without consultation or approval from them.

In fact, the top table had already voted against offering these exceptions three times.

A heated meeting between officials followed, which in turn delayed the negotiating team returning to the Labour Court to collect the recommendations. Members on the ground have been expressing their anger at the way the officer board handled the situation on Thursday, before the strike was deferred. Talk in garda circles about the row has somewhat overshadowed discussion about the merits and downsides of the actual deal.

The recommendations include:

  • Rent allowance being assimilated into core pay and increased by €500 from January
  • A payment of €15 per annual leave day, to be brought in from April, worth between €490 and €510 a year.
  • A payment for ‘parading time’ or pre-tour briefings; a 15 minute handover between shifts, worth €1,500 a year.
  • The restoration of rent allowance to new recruits.

If accepted, however, members will have to agree to working up to 60 additional hours a year, if the parading time and the free public pay deal hours are counted. They will also be committing to a rake of productivity measures in the force’s recently announced modernisation programme. This will mean engaging in new training and using new processes and technologies over the next five years.

The GRA’s meeting has been adjourned until Wednesday.

The national executive of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, which also received recommendations from the Labour Court, is due to hold a similar – though less controversial – meeting tomorrow. They will discuss the proposals, the ballot and are expected to suspend their three planned strike days this month, as the GRA has done this evening.

It is hoped the ballots will be sent out next week, with the results expected back by the end of the month.

Read: Garda strike: Here’s the deal that’s being offered to gardaí>

Read: ‘No amount of money is worth working more’ – Anger among garda rank may scupper pay deal>

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