The Civil, Public and Services Union has been fighting for equal pay for its members since 1998 with varying degrees of success. Now, as it awaits the outcome of a case in the European Court of Justice, its campaign has received the backing of the European Commission.
In 1998 the CPSU lodged a claim seeking equal pay with uniformed gardaí who were assigned to clerical administration duties. The union said the original cases were taken on behalf of seven clerical officers but since 2006, it has lodged over 7,000 additional claims. It says the gardaí in question receive about €12,000 more, including allowances, than the clerical administrative members for doing the same work.
The initial case taken by the union succeeded before the Equality Tribunal, but the decision was overturned by the Labour Court.
The court ruled the reason for deploying gardaí in clerical posts was that An Garda Síochána management believes it is operationally necessary to have serving officers engaged in the work and the deployment of officers at Garda rates of pay was “an appropriate means of achieving the objectives being pursued by Garda management”.
It also referred to an effort to reduce the number of gardaí in roles where police knowledge and training are not considered essential.
The union appealed to the High Court on what it said was a number of legal points. It said it succeeded in having the issues under contention referred to the European Court of Justice.
“The union never agreed with the Labour Court accepting the management view on the comparators not being representative of the group or that they required police powers to perform the clerical work,” a spokeswoman said.
The Advocate General opinion is expected next year with the decision from the European Court of Justice due in late 2013.