GRA deal clears way for union talks

The approval by rank-and-file gardaí of a €50m pay deal is set to clear the way for other trade unions to formally begin fresh talks with the Government about restoring pay that was cut during the crash.

The overwhelming acceptance of the Labour Court recommended deal by the Garda Representative Association (GRA), which represents more than 10,000 gardaí, will pave the way for new talks on a successor to the current deal with workers.

After mounting pressure, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe last week agreed to talks on the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA). Unions say the garda deal makes the agreement untenable.

Union leaders will meet today and discuss Mr Donohoe’s offer of fresh talks on what he last week called “anomalies” in the LRA.

The 75% approval by GRA members who voted on the Labour Court deal will be a relief for the minister and Government, with threats of strike action by gardaí now off the agenda.

The GRA’s central executive committee will meet today and discuss implementing the pay deal, which includes better rent allowance terms, a special pre-shift fee and more leave pay.

The Labour Court decided not to make any proposals on pay restoration because of the role of the public service pay commission.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will also formally begin the process shortly about how the €50m deal will be funded with Mr Donohoe.

Ms Fitzgerald yesterday welcomed the GRA ballot outcome.

“No one, be it the Government, gardaí themselves, or the public, wanted to see industrial action that would have damaged the hard-earned reputation of An Garda Síochána,” she said.

“The independent recommendation of the Labour Court sought to address the concerns that have been articulated by the representative bodies in relation to their pay and conditions, the pay and conditions of new recruits, and their access to the statutory dispute resolution bodies.”

Ms Fitzgerald also said that her department would begin the process of ensuring the GRA had future access to industrial relations bodies, as already promised by the Government.

The negotiating team of the 20-union member public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will meet today and discuss Mr Donohoe’s offer of talks. The committee will discuss the agenda and logistics in dealing with the Government side. The minister’s officials declined to comment last night.

Meanwhile, results from middle-ranking gardaí voting on the Labour Court deal are expected today. The AGSI are expected to support it after previously advising members to do so.


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