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Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie
Drew Flu

Gardaí to begin withdrawing overtime in first of five Tuesdays of industrial action

They will enter a de facto work-to-rule by not working overtime on Budget Day, Halloween night and three other dates in October.

RANK AND FILE gardaí will withdraw from voluntary overtime today, in the first of five Tuesdays earmarked for industrial action.

They will enter a de facto work-to-rule by not agreeing to work overtime on Budget Day 10 October and Halloween night 31 October – as well as 17 and 24 October.

The gardaí have colloquially begun to call the action the “Drew Flu” – which is a reference to their 1998 withdrawal of labour known as the “Blue Flu, when gardaí called in sick in a dispute over pay and conditions.  

Last month, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) members took a vote of no confidence in Commissioner Drew Harris – with 98.7% of the 85% member turnout backing the motion. 

While the main gripe recently has been Harris’s intention to change garda rosters, the GRA says it’s more than that.

Speaking on RTÉ radio yesterday, Brendan O’Connor of the GRA said the vote of no confidence in Harris was not a misstep. 

“Our members have become very unsatisfied with a lot of things that are happening in the job. They felt their voice wasn’t being heard. We were being dismissed… this was building for quite a while,” he said.

He said the organisation deferred a vote of no confidence at last year’s AGM, “so the writing was on the wall that there were serious problems emerging”.

He said it was obvious that the problems “simmering under the surface” were going to “boil over”, despite the insistence of the Commissioner and Minister for Justice that there was no morale issues. 

Asked whether the GRA had personalised the dispute, O’Connor said it was not personal in nature but that it had become “very entrenched”, adding that some of the commentary surrounding the issue is very unhelpful and is leading to “irreparable damage to the relationship between the members and by default, the workforce and the leader”.

He said it remains the GRA’s position that it will not return to the negotiating table unless there is a withdrawal of the implementation of the old roster on 6 November.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said on Sunday that she had confidence in Harris and would not intervene in the dispute.

“I will not direct the Garda Commissioner nor will I direct members as to where or when or how they should be working,” she said.

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