Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Rank and file gardai seek pay voice

GRA general secretary PJ Stone said gardai should be dealt with separately from other public sector workers

Delegates representing rank and file gardai will demand they have a voice at future negotiations on pay.

Gardai should be dealt with separately from other public sector workers, said PJ Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association (GRA).

He spoke as around 170 GRA members descend upon Westport, Co Mayo, for its 35th annual conference.

Mr Stone said: "Gardai are a unique organ of State, not dissimilar in some aspects to the judiciary, yet a perceived constitutional crisis with this country's judges is dealt with separately and distinctly from other public and civil servants. Gardai too should be afforded a separate mechanism for negotiations of pay and conditions."

The annual conference, which is the policy making body for the GRA, will vote on 19 motions - including calls for the establishment of an independent commission to report on pay and conditions in An Garda Siochana. GRA president John Parker will then meet with Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan on Tuesday.

Mr Stone said representatives had been excluded from the first round of talks on Croke Park II, which trade unions subsequently and overwhelmingly voted down. He also accused the Government of misinforming the public as to the level of input gardai representatives were given.

Mr Stone said: "We were never involved or were never going to form part of any significant movement in the discussions under the Croke Park II proposals. Yet our political masters have decided that the only way they can combat the unfairness of our exile from the pay talks, is to repeatedly pretend that we could have somehow influenced discussions in a far-off room. When government and trade unions are in negotiations, garda are excluded from both sides."

The GRA, which represents 11,200 rank and file gardai from 31 garda divisions, will demand the right for gardai to discuss their pay and conditions. It claims this is a priority for the organisation and that there will be no justice until a solution is reached.

Meanwhile, unions have been warned the Government will impose pay cuts and increment freezes if a deal to reduce the public sector pay bill is not reached within two weeks.

Industrial relations mediator Kieran Mulvey, who was appointed to coax unions back into talks following the collapse of Croke Park II, told them the Government remains committed to shaving 300 million euro off the pay bill this year.

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