Belfast Telegraph

Gardai lift strike threat after last-ditch talks

Gardai have lifted strike threats after securing improved pay offers in last-ditch crisis talks.

Leaders of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) took the move after unprecedented access to the state's top industrial relations mediators.

Some 12,500 rank-and-file and middle management officers will now be asked to vote on a deal in a bid to avert three other days of walkouts planned for later this month.

The pay rise put forward by state mediators is worth about several thousand euro.

Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the lifting of the strike threat and paid tribute to the mediators for helping to avoid the first in four days of strikes.

"This has been an intensive period of negotiation with AGSI and I would like to commend all who have been involved in these complex discussions for engaging in this process in good faith and for their commitment to finding a resolution," she said.

Part of the deal includes about 4,500 euro which is classed as a rent allowance but included in basic pay. It will help boost officers' overall wages when overtime rates are calculated.

There is a 1,459 euro new benefit for the 15-minute handover periods between shifts and premiums of 15 euro for every annual leave day due to the frequency of officers being forced to sacrifice planned holidays when called on duty.

The package is also set to be fast-tracked with the rent allowance to run from a date when it is accepted and the other improved conditions to kick in at the start of next year.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), which represents about 2,000 officers, said historic wrongs had been put right in the negotiations and its members had secured improved salaries.

"The AGSI have gained an uplift in the income of all our members, the details of which will be circulated to the national executive and will be subsequently balloted upon," AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said.

The two garda organisations secured access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court for the first time in their industrial relations with the state.

GRA president Pat Ennis said: "It is an improvement on previous proposals received from the Government.

"We need to give full consideration to it. We need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of it."

Amid the threat of 12,500 gardai joining the strike a contingency policing plan had been put in place with 78 garda stations opening around the country.

Counties Mayo, Galway and Donegal would have had one station open each.

There was also the threat of sanction hanging over any officer who did not make themselves available for work when asked, following a direct order from Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan. It is illegal for gardai to strike or to induce colleagues to strike.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also revealed that legislation was being drawn up to allow garda representatives to be treated like any other union and get formal rights to access the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court for future industrial relations issues.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph