Move comes after a report says officers should be penalised for any industrial action

Gardaí plan to drive ahead with plans to secure full trade union recognition and the right to withdraw labour after a report said officers should be penalised for conducting any industrial action.

The long-awaited Review of An Garda Síochána, conducted by former Labour Court chairman John Horgan, recommends that industrial relations affecting gardaí be “normalised” and that both the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors be given trade union status.

The recommendations do not include the right to strike, however, with Mr Horgan stating that all parties should agree that there would be no industrial action, and that any gardaí withdrawing labour should be ineligible for pension accrual for five years.

That point, among others, drew the ire of the AGSI, which said it had failed to provide clarity on how gardaí should be dealt with, was contradictory in nature, and the recommendation on giving up the right to strike was “discriminatory in nature as no other public sector worker has been asked to give up their right to strike”.

“The punitive measure in relation to pensions, possibly illegal, is an emotional knee-jerk reaction to the threat by individual people to withdraw their labour, and not contained in Mr Horgan’s terms of reference,” it said.

The GRA was not quite as critical but gave short shrift to the idea of agreeing not to strike.

GRA president Ciarán O’Neill said: “We are still awaiting trade union status with the associated civil rights including full collective bargaining, which includes the freedom to strike.

“For gardaí to be afforded equal status with other public servants in the upcoming Public Service Pay Commission [PSPC] this must include rights of affiliation and the attendant freedom to withdraw labour.”

Later he said it was now up to the Department of Justice to bring forward discussions on how best to deal with the issues covered by the report and by the recent Labour Court recommendations.

“The department will have to bring us in for some level of discussion to formulate access for us to the Workplace Relations Commission and the terms of reference we go in under,” he said.

“There is a necessity to have some form of structure put in place and we will have to have an input into that.”

The Horgan Report also outlined the steady fall in garda numbers over the past eight years, but also growing investment and expenditure levels.

That, plus figures indicating that, when all allowances are taken into account no garda is earning less than €30,000 a year, drew the ire of representative bodies who claimed that much of a garda’s earnings was due to overtime, which was not voluntary and which was because of the fall in garda numbers meaning fewer officers covering a greater workload.

In the report Mr Horgan said: “To give a comprehensive picture of remuneration in An Garda Síochána it is imperative to consider three elements: basic pay; overtime and allowances; and pensions.”

Using those parameters it found that following the recent Labour Court recommendation the salary of a new recruit would be €30,127 annually, rising to €102,755 a year for a current chief supt with seven years’ experience. On that Labour Court Recommendation, Mr Horgan said it would provide extra remuneration of around €4,000 on average to a member of the service over the next 12 months, via measures including an increase in the value of the rent allowance by €500, bringing it to €4,655 per annum, and the integration of the rent allowance in the new amount of €4,655 into salary, with consequential increases in unsocial hours and overtime payments, both with effect from January 1 next.

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