Coalition sources outlined the de facto talks deadline last night, despite Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe stressing that “all of our efforts” are going into ensuring the industrial action is avoided.
Under moves agreed between the Government, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) and the Garda Representative Association (GRA) last Friday, all three parties are holding 11th-hour talks to prevent an unprecedented Garda strike in just four days’ time.
Officials from the departments of justice and public expenditure met with the AGSI yesterday in Santry, north Dublin, under the oversight of the Workplace Relations Commission, while similar discussions with the GRA are due for today.
However, while no side was officially commenting last night, Government sources noted that if no clear progress has been made by tomorrow night, they will have to start implementing the as-yet unpublished contingency measures.
Asked about the issue on RTÉ Radio yesterday, Mr Donohoe stressed that “all of our efforts” are being put into ensuring that the contingency plans will not be needed.
The Government is believed to be offering Garda groups increases to the €4,000 rent allowance and at-parade allowance, in addition to guaranteeing the issue of pay is re-examined as part of the newly-formed Public Sector Pay Commission in the coming months.
This is because such a deal would allow increases while not breaching the Lansdowne Road pay deal — a move which could cause a domino effect for at least 20 other public sector unions.
However, the AGSI and GRA have previously rejected the allowances increase resolution, and are seeking a 16.5% pay increase for members, some of whom are on wages of just €24,000 a year.