Rank and file gardaí are set to demand the restoration of 22% of pay lost since the recession and the end to a two-tier system which saw new entrants to the force hit with even more swingeing cuts to wages and allowances.
It is expected that frontline gardaí will adopt a more militant stance on recouping the cuts when the Garda Representative Association’s (GRA) annual conference gets under way in Killarney tonight .
They will press for the end to discrimination against new entrants, who after October 1, 2013, came in on wages that were 10% lower than their colleagues. They were also denied a rent allowance worth more than €4,000 a year, which their colleagues retained.
Seasoned gardaí say it is inherently unfair that new colleagues have to endure the same everyday risks as they do but get a lot less recompense.
They will also demand that a special allowance be paid to gardaí working in cities because they are more expensive to live in and that these allowances be based on figures supplied by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The conference will also hear a call for the Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner to address the “chronic lack” of armed 24-hour cover in some areas and and whether it is realistic to maintain a mainly unarmed police force in an era of increasingly violent crime and increased threat of international terrorism.
Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan also will face calls to examine staffing levels in rural areas, which members say are not adequate.
In a number of cases gardaí have found themselves on their own responding to incidents which could put them at serious personal risk.
In light of the increasing number of violent attacks on gardaí, a motion is being put forward on this insisting that no member go to a call-out unaccompanied, and that garda management adhere to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 2006 and 2010.
The GRA is also concerned about lack of proper ongoing professional development training and wants it provided to all members of the force every 12 months.
They are also looking for all frontline police to get driver training and for the introduction of better overtime payments.
Delegates will also call on Ms O’Sullivan to carry out a risk assessment on the entire fleet of garda vehicles to see if they are fit for purpose.
The GRA’s fractious relationship in recent years with watchdog GSOC will also come up for debate at the two-day conference.
One motion seeks to have GRA bosses obtain all personal data on members held by GSOC and ascertain if retaining and storing such information is in breech of the Data Protection Act.
It is expected the GRA will also seek to make GSOC inform members under investigation of the progress of it on a bi-monthly basis and conclude each investigation in a timely manner.
Delegates are also expected to urge the Commissioner to immediately set up promotion competitions to fill vacancies which exist in some specialist sections of the force.
The level of GRA militancy will be gauged when frontline gardaí debate a motion that the association pursues ‘whatever action necessary’ should the government choose to discriminate or punish them for rejecting the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) annual conference warned they will risk breaking the law by considering strike action, seriously escalating their dispute.
The actions include AGSI members marching to the Dáil in uniform, picketing the offices of Government ministers and TDs, and possibly taking strike action.
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