AS the Government finalises the budget, it faces unrest in the public sector over pay and conditions.
Already transport workers are on strike, and more may join them. Nurses want the Government to cut the unpaid hours they work . Teachers represented by ASTI seem on a collision course with the Government over pay and terms too. Details of a Garda vote on pay was published yesterday; it showed that 95% of the 66% of the GRA’s 10,500 members entitled to vote support considering industrial action. It is illegal for gardaí to join a trade union or go on strike, niceties that did not prevent an outbreak of credibility-destroying “blue flu” in 1998.
A reliable, contented, and well-resourced police force is an essential support for a decent society. It is also true that, like all other workers, gardaí have had to accept less than they might have wished over recent years.
Arguing the GRA case yesterday, a spokesman insisted the gardaí are a “unique” case and deserve special treatment. This silliness, this imagined elitism, must be rejected. Gardaí do indeed have a challenging job but that is hardly a surprise to anyone who joined the force voluntarily.
Their retirement regime, where a member can retire with a pension in their very early 50s, is certainly unique and has remained untouched despite an accelerating trend towards ever later retirement thresholds. Could this enviable benefit be a case for reverse benchmarking?
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