The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) made the surprise move in their meeting with Ms Fitzgerald, the Justice Minister, yesterday.
The AGSI, representing some 2,000 members, is holding a special conference on October 17 at which delegates will decide if they will join frontline gardaí in taking strike action, including the “nightmare scenario” of doing so on the same dates.
The Garda Representative Association, with some 10,500 members, has decided to take industrial action on November 4, 11, 18, and 25.
Speaking after their meeting yesterday, AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said there had been “a frank exchange of views” with the Tánaiste.
“We were happy we were able to articulate the concerns of our members and we lodged a claim with the minister of 16.5% restoration of garda pay.”
Asked over what time period they wanted this claim met, Ms Cunningham said: “We would like immediate restoration of pay.”
She said the minister’s response was “it was an all- Government decision and that it would have to be considered and she would be back to us”. Ms Cunningham said they did not know where their pay claim would fit in discussions next week, given it was budget week. “I think it’s incumbent to keep our issue out there and progress matters as quickly as we can.”
She said the “urgency” in resolving the issue by October 17 lay with the Government.
“We’re four years negotiating at this stage. For us, if there is urgency around this, it falls to government to come back with a response to the pay claim,” she said.
Ms Cunningham said the Tánaiste listened “very carefully” regarding their concerns, particularly their concerns after last Friday week’s meeting with officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
“I think she has a greater understanding now of what those issues are and why we were so concerned after that meeting.”
Asked what delegates needed to hear at the conference in order to prevent industrial action, Ms Cunningham said: “Our delegates are clear: We have lodged a claim for restoration on garda pay, so, I’m sure they are going to want to hear what progress has been made.
“Our conference will go ahead on the 17th of October in Athlone and there are several people who will bring forward motions around pay, pay strategy and industrial relations issues.”
She said there was no follow-up meeting scheduled: “We made our position clear and will wait until the Government comes back to us.”
A spokesperson for Ms Fitzgerald said: “The Tánaiste had a constructive meeting this evening with the AGSI. She emphasised that the resolution of outstanding concerns lies in further engagement and she will continue to facilitate that.
“There will be further contact between the department and the AGSI in the coming days. The Tánaiste will meet the GRA later this week.”