Gardaí should have access to pay talks but not be allowed to protest, says report

By Juno McEnroe, Political Correspondent

A Government report has recommended gardaí should not be allowed protest or obtain normal trade union status.

However, the inter-department report suggests garda associations should be allowed engage in future pay talks and also be given access to industrial relations mechanisms.

The inter-department report, published this afternoon, concludes that garda associations should have access to industrial relations mechanisms, such as the Work Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

“The working group concurs with the views of the Garda Associations that providing access to the industrial relations machinery of the State is an essential output from phase one of the terms of reference,” it says.

The report warns that garda trade union membership of ICTU might see their members caught up in wider campaigns or protests.

It says: “This activism might be at odds with the non-political role of An Garda Síochána.”

The holding of a trade union status could cause problems for members of the force responding to public order issues, it also suggests.

“The view of the Working Group is that the unique requirements of An Garda Síochána would not be served by reconstituting the Garda Associations as trade unions.”

In conclusion, the working group suggests garda associations get access to the WRC and the Labour Court, but that the groups do not become trade unions.

The group warns there is a responsibility on the state and gardaí to ensure “uninterrupted delivery of the essential services associated with policing and national security” and therefore rules out recommending garda associations should be allowed to strike.

“It is therefore difficult for this working group to come to any conclusion that might provide for or enable the withdrawal of these services."

“Low level” industrial action should also be avoided, the report says, as it “runs contrary to the fundamental ethos of a disciplined force”.

It says: “The Working Group is of the view, particularly with regard to the roles in national security and public authority, that subjecting particular duties to industrial action will necessarily have a ‘knock-on’ impact across the entire range of duties in these roles.”

The working group concludes that gardaí “should continue to be constrained from withdrawing their labour in any strike action likely to impact on policing, the security of the State or the maintenance of public authority.”

However, the group suggests that gardaí should, like other public servants, be entitled to engage in future pay talks.

It says garda associations “should, in all cases, be enabled to make representations with regard to pay and related conditions in a manner which is no less advantageous than the facilities available to other public servants.”

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