Last-ditch offer to rank-and-file Garda group unanimously rejected

The Garda Representative Association has “unanimously” rejected a last ditch Government attempt to prevent an unprecedented strike after claiming the continued focus on allowance hikes has failed to meet garda demands.
Last-ditch offer to rank-and-file Garda group unanimously rejected

Members of the group’s executive committee, which represents rank-and-file officers, heavily criticised the proposal in a lengthy meeting last night, which senior officials described as “completely negative”.

This is because of the continued focus on rent and at-parade allowance increases instead of basic pay; no allowance increases until January 2017; the “half- deferral” of the rent allowance rise until January 2018 for new entrants; and increased hours, among other concerns.

After two days of intense talks with the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, officials from the Departments of Justice and Public Expenditure yesterday provided a document outlining increased pay offers.

The proposed deal was centred on the restoration of the €4,000 rent allowance and the 15-minute at-parade allowance for officers, as this would allow garda income to be increased without technically breaching the Lansdowne Road agreement —thereby avoiding an avalanche of similar pay claims from public sector unions.

However, while the Workplace Relations Commission, which is overseeing the talks, requested the GRA and AGSI’s senior officials to accept the deal and temporarily suspend Friday’s imminent strike to allow for a full ballot of members, the GRA last night rejected the plan.

As the GRA’s pay negotiation team led by president Ciarán O’Neill met officials in Dublin yesterday, most of the group’s 31-strong national executive travelled to the capital for a briefing.

Speaking as he arrived in Phibsboro for the meeting, Mr O’Neill confirmed his group has “received the final position document from the departments”, and that any decision to suspend Friday’s planned strike “will be for the executive to decide”.

However, just before 10pm last night, members confirmed the deal had been “unanimously rejected” as it “doesn’t sort pay”, will force already over-stretched gardaí to work increased hours before rest days, and means some increases will not happen until 2018.

One senior GRA member last night told the Irish Examiner gardaí will “not be bought” by pay promises for 2017 and 2018, while another said “it doesn’t appear the department have met us halfway” and the reaction has been “negative so far”.

Addressing the 15 minute at-parade offer, he added: “Working 15 minutes before each shift is basically extending our already long 10 hour shifts by way of overtime. It doesn’t sort pay. We already work 60 hours, so six 10 hour days, before rest days. We would now be working 61.5 hours [if the deal was accepted].”

The separate AGSI national executive is due to meet today to discuss the same offer.

However, it is highly likely to support any decision taken by the GRA, meaning the country will be without its 12,500 gardaí for the following four Fridays.

Unless an unlikely U-turn occurs over the next 24 hours, Government will now begin implementing still unpublished contingency plans, which may include a skeleton force of army, reservists and senior officers manning the streets.

Meanwhile, Department of Education officials will meet with the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland today in a bid to prevent hundreds of schools remaining shut after the mid-term break due to a related pay dispute.

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