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Tánaiste expresses "disappointment" that AGSI to strike with rank-and-file gardaí

Middle-ranking gardaí will also stage two work-to-rule days before the November work stoppages.

11/10/2016. Budget Day Frances Fitzgerald Source: Leah Farrell

Updated 20.55

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE Frances Fitzgerald has expressed her ‘disappointment’ that the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has said it will strike with rank-and-file gardaí for four days next month.

At a special conference in Athlone today, delegates representing 31 branches of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking part in the four strike days planned next month.

“It is disappointing that the (AGSI) have announced their intention to take industrial action,” Fitzgerald said this evening.

This is particularly the case as they have not balloted their members on the taking of this action.
Indeed, it is just seven weeks since their membership voted to accept the Lansdowne Road Agreement by over 70%.

Fitzgerald said that an offer to meet representatives of the AGSI “remains open”.

“My focus and that of the Government is on negotiation,” she said.

I remain focused on finding a pathway to negotiate with AGSI in a way which is fair to their members, the taxpayer and other public sector workers.  This must be within the parameters of the very real constraints on public sector pay.  

“It would be most unfortunate if, rather than engaging further, action were to be contemplated that would not be in the best interests of our communities or of An Garda Síochána,” the minister added.

Earlier

This morning the AGSI announced its intention to strike alongside rank-and-file gardaí next month.

17/5/2016. Garda Protests Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

At a special conference in Athlone, delegates representing 31 branches of the association voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking part in the four strike days planned next month.

Last month, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) announced work stoppages on 4, 11, 18 and 25 November.

Prior to the four strike days, sergeants and inspectors will also stage two work-to-rule days on 21 and 28 October, when they will refuse to use the garda Pulse system.

Making the announcement of six days of industrial action, President of the AGSI Antoinette Cunningham said members had been left with “no other option”.

“We did not take this decision lightly, however, we feel we have no choice but to show Government how serious we are about restoring pay for our members. We also hope that senior Garda management will respect our decision to take this action.”

Cunningham disagreed with comments made by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar suggesting the public will not support gardaí if they strike.

“Our members have been inundated with messages of support from people in our communities who have sympathy for the position we find ourselves in,” she said.

“Our 2,000 members speak to members of the public daily and we are always taking the temperature of public opinion.”

We care about what the public think because we work to serve them. We have been subjected to a campaign of media criticism by politicians whose time would be better served trying to solve these matters rather than splitting the gardaí and the public they serve.

Cunningham said her association is open to negotiations, but added they “need to see action” from the government.

AGSI tabled a 16.5% pay restoration claim with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald two weeks ago and are requesting access to direct pay negotiation for future pay deals.

Contingency plan

Today, the GRA suggested members of the Emergency Response Unit and Regional Support Units report for normal rostered duty throughout the strike action.

“This will ensure a skeletal service to protect the security of the State, prevent and detect serious crime and preserve vital evidence,” the association said in a statement.

General Secretary Pat Ennis has also written to the Garda Commissioner to request details of contingency plans put in place “to minimise such risk from 07.00 hours for each 24-hour period where members are taking industrial action”.

“In the meantime, the association will be encouraging individual members to be receptive to skeletal cover in emergency and evidence gathering areas, and is mindful that on-going intelligence-led policing operations are not disrupted or adversely affected,” Ennis said today.

“The Central Executive Committee is respectfully asking members attached to the Technical Bureau rostered to work on 4,11,18 and 25 November to remain available on an on-call basis to respond to major crime incidents.”

Additional reporting Cianan Brennan

Originally published 16.23

Read: Rank-and-file gardaí to withdraw labour on four dates in November

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