Belfast Telegraph

Gardai set for talks over threatened strike action

Rank and file gardai have agreed to go into talks with the state's industrial relations mediators in a bid to avert a threatened strike over pay.

The 10,000-strong Garda Representative Association (GRA) had warned that its members would take action on four days in November, sparking fears of a repeat of the 1998 "blue flu" when officers called in sick en masse.

The organisation, which does not have full trade union rights and is barred under law from calling a strike, have already rejected one pay deal offer on rent allowances for new recruits and a restoration of increments.

But after exploratory talks in the last week, the Department of Justice and Equality confirmed it has secured an agreement with the GRA to mediation.

It said the two sides "agreed to utilise the services of the state industrial relations institutions on an ad hoc basis, to augment the current negotiations in an attempt to avert the planned industrial action by members".

The first unofficial strike was due next Friday.

It also coincided with threatened industrial action by members of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) and left the prospect of only a few hundred top ranking officers such as superintendents and other armed response units available to police the streets.

The GRA had also threatened to continue the strike actions on November 11, 18 and 25.

More than 95% of its members balloted had backed industrial action.

The dispute centres on a Government move to freeze incremental pay increases after the GRA failed to sign up to the Lansdowne Road public sector pay agreement and also cuts to pay for new entrants.

The two sides will take part in negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission.

It is understood that the mediators do not agree to accommodate talks unless there is a genuine belief that a compromise deal can be reached.

A spokeswoman for the GRA said the contact between the two sides would continue over the weekend.


From Belfast Telegraph