GRA says freeze may cost recruits €46k over career as Government says retrospective pay possible in deal
Newly-recruited gardaí will face a loss of about €46,000 over the duration of their career due to the pay freeze, the president of the union representing rank and file members of the force claims.
Ciaran O’Neill of the Garda Representative Association, made his comments on the day the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA) came into effect.
As the GRA and Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) are not signed up to LRA, 30,000 gardaí and teachers face the prospect of losing out on pay increases.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors agreed to reballot its members on LRA after it secured a guarantee that the issue of pay would form part of a garda organisation review, due to be completed within six months.
However, Ciaran O’Neill said that was not grounds for his members to reconsider their position on LRA.
He said the review had been promised under the previous Haddington Road Agreement and should have been completed by 2014.
“Two years later, it still hasn’t happened,” he said. “So they are saying ‘look, we are going to give you what you have already asked for providing you sign up to a new agreement’.”
“We are looking for an independent mechanism to deal with garda pay. We would like to see what results we have before we would actually sign up to something else.
“It is like buying a car and being promised four wheels. But when you get it the car only has three wheels and they tell you that, in order to get the fourth you have to buy a new car.”
He said freezing of pay under the financial emergency legislation FEMPI was a big issue for his members.
“Morale is at an all-time low. Our members are extremely angry. Lansdowne Road does not show any signs for pay recovery.
“The Government say it’s a pathway into it, but all we can see at the end of the path is fog because there is no clear vision as to when members are going to get their pay restored.”
He gave an indication of what the pay freeze means in real terms: “A recruit coming out of the garda college in Templemore. He is facing a loss over his career of about €46,000 because of the pay freeze.”
Government sources have indicated that gardaí suffering financial losses could be given retrospective payments — but only if they sign up to the new agreement down the line.
It is understood the Government is willing to look at restoring any lost payments for rank-and-file members if they back LRA.
“Retrospective” payments would have to be considered if the GRA agreed to a deal on that basis, sources said.
It is also understood that GRA members were offered ‘softer’ extra working hours, such as briefings or training days, instead of shifts as part of negotiations to get them on board with LRA.
Despite negotiations with the GRA breaking down, the union has agreed to go back and discuss fresh concessions with their district groups and then have an executive meeting in “due course”.
GRA members under the new deal would get rent allowance of more than €4,000 a year returned and increased increments bringing new recruits from €23,750 up to more than €28,000 by next year.
Government officials estimate that over 460 new recruits will be affected by any penalties.
It is also understood that the now estimated six-month review could be completed sooner if necessary.
However, it will be up to its chairperson to recommend any pay increases for gardaí, which ultimately could then be passed onto the new public sector pay commission for consideration.
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