17 October 2016
It is disappointing that the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors have announced their intention to take industrial action. This is particularly the case as they have not balloted their members on the taking of this action. Indeed, it is just 7 weeks since their membership voted to accept the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA) by over 70%.
This strong endorsement of the LRA was on foot of an agreement reached between my Department and AGSI which addressed in a very positive way the issues raised by AGSI in the course of negotiations, which took place over a number of months. In particular, it sought to address the concerns that they have articulated in relation to the pay of new recruits, the additional hours that Gardaí are required to work, their access to pay determination and dispute resolution bodies, and the completion of the Review of An Garda Síochána. The agreement included very significant benefits, including the restoration of the rent allowance worth over €4,000 or 17% annually to new recruits.
I met representatives of AGSI earlier this month and my Department extended an invitation to meet last week. That invitation remains open and I would urge them to engage with my Department to find a solution for their members.
My focus and that of the Government is on negotiation. I remain focused on finding a pathway to negotiate with AGSI in a way which is fair to their members, the taxpayer and other public sector workers. This must be within the parameters of the very real constraints on public sector pay.
In relation to pay determination negotiations generally there is a commitment to the Garda representative associations to have direct access on the same basis as all other unions and representative bodies to future pay determination mechanisms including the Public Service Pay Commission and subsequent central pay negotiations.
The work of the Commission will facilitate this engagement with public sector unions and representative bodies and other stakeholders on the successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement. The Public Service Pay Commission will report by the middle of next year.
I am also absolutely committed to the Garda representative bodies having access to the statutory dispute resolution bodies - the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. I expect the Review of An Garda Síochána that is underway at present under the Chairmanship of Mr John Horgan will map out what needs to be done to achieve this. However, it is important to note that changes to primary legislation will be required to achieve this. I am committed to such provision being made and once the Chair of the Review has completed his examination of this matter my Department will move as quickly as possible to put in train whatever actions are required.
It would be most unfortunate if, rather than engaging further, action were to be contemplated that would not be in the best interests of our communities or of An Garda Síochána.