A vote by gardaí on a new pay agreement is expected to be a “close call” as members weigh up an effective pay rise of up to €2,000 per year against a continuation of 30 additional hours of work on top of normal duties.
The ballot is taking place as a group of student gardaí — the first batch to be recruited since 2009 — expressed formal concern to Garda management at the two-tier pay structure which sees them earning some €8,000 less than their colleagues.
The ballot has been sent by the Garda Representative Association to its 10,400 members, as well as the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors with 2,000-plus members.
A number of senior sources have predicted a “close call” within the GRA, with some tipping “a firm rejection” of the proposal.
Other experienced sources caution against any such prediction, but accepted it could go either way.
The ballot was sent out to gardai some two weeks ago and the result is due on October 28.
Under the Lansdowne Road Agreement, there would be an unwinding of measures which saw public sector workers pay towards their pensions.
From January 2016, the threshold at which workers start paying the “pension levy” will increase, from €15,000 to €24,750.
The reduction of the pension levy will mean the average garda will have an extra €600 gross in their yearly pay. In September 2016, the threshold will rise further, from €24,750 to €28,750, resulting in an extra €400.
In a final stage, annualised salaries of up to €65,000 will see a pay increase of €1,000 gross per annum after September 2017.
In total, this amounts to €2,000 extra a year. However, the agreement will also extend the terms of its predecessor, the Haddington Road Agreement 2014, including the 30 extra working hours a year, until 2018.
“The continuation of the 30 hours is the main problem,” said one branch source.
He said that, unlike most of the public service, who could add the extra work onto their normal day, gardaí had to work two extra days, in addition to 10 hours they could add to their days.
“It means you have extra fuel costs, extra meal costs for those two days,” the source said. “You are told a fortnight before you are working on such a day.”
He said the extra €2,000 gross would not be seen in pay packets until 2018 and would equate to €1,000 net. He calculated the extra 30 hours to be worth €930 gross and around €500 net.
He predicted his division would reject the proposal.
A second source, in a different part of the country, said “members were not happy” and that he expected there to be “an overwhelming majority against it”.
Again, he said the main issue was the continuation of the extra 30 hours.
“The Government wants to continue with austerity measures at a time when it says the country is recovering.” said the source.
Meanwhile, a group of new graduates have written to Garda management demanding equal pay with their colleagues. The student gardaí start off with a salary of €23,171, compared with the last group to graduate, in 2009, who started on €31,000.
They said that, given the unsocial hours of the job and the risks involved, they should be paid “fairly and not meagerly”.
The GRA said it was “inherently wrong” for colleagues be paid differently and warned recruits could fall into a “poverty trap”.
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