Updated: 04/11/16 : 05:26:14
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Big cash concessions win Garda peace, pending ballot

By Eugene McGloin

THE STRIKE by 12,500 Gardai -- due to begin at 7am today -- has been deferred.

Members will now ballot on sets of detailed proposals presented by the Labour Court last night, Thursday.

Industrial action by Gardai had been proposed for each Friday in November. 

Pickets had already been delivered and the first-ever strikes would have involved 10,000 rank and file, plus 2,500 middle management members.

The Government welcomed last night's outcome; industrial peace in the State's police service has been achieved for several months, at least, as ballots pend.

But the price of that peace is significantly greater than it was even 72 hours ago.

Then, it was estimated at €30 million euro -- none of which appeared as a provision in the recent 2017 Budget. 

Key elements included in the peace package are overtime and premium pay boosts, significant rent allowance for all members plus a new pre-shift handover payment.

Unanimously Rejected

Earlier this week the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) facilitated moves which sought to solve the industrial relations crux.

Those WRC proposals came from the Department of Justice but were unanimously rejected by the Garda Representative Association (GRA), which has 10,000 members.

The GRA's members this week also indicated individually they would massively disregard what was, effectively, a countermanding by the Garda Commissioner of today's strike.

Formal Access

Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan cancelled leave and ordered all members of her police service to present to work this morning, Friday.

Those on rosters will be there alright this morning, but not because of her order nor, some will now argue, through her (pockmarked) sense of authority in the crisis. 

Instead, both main Garda representative associations have now had an (historic) 'taste' of formal access to the State's industrial relations apparatus.

This morning those associations, in all but name, are 'premiership' trade unions.

They can collectively bargain, but add in their implicit right to withdraw labour and pursue industrial relations issues.

On the other hand, they will find scant future backing from trade unionists when/if they claim 'special' treatment. It cuts two ways.

Fundamental, Historic

AGSI President Antoinette Cunningham handled the sense of history succinctly in public late last night.

She said ''a fundamental and historic wrong'' had been put right as a direct result of her Association's sustained four-year campaign to gain access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

Pushes Envelope

It remains to be seen which party in the Dail now pushes the envelope to enact the legislation putting all that in place, in line with EU determinations.

It also remains to be be seen if a 'new broom' -- perhaps, a civilian Commissioner even -- emerges as an issue in 2017.

This week retired Garda, some who served at senior level, identified issues besides pay -- tied to morale, management, leadership, manpower, equipment.

Fobbed Off

Michael Carty, a retired senior officer, said yesterday that Commissioner O'Sullivan ''did not help matters with her repeated public declarations'' that she had ''all the resources necessary.''

He did not lay all the blame at the Commissioner's feet. Pay, he wrote in ''The Irish Independent,'' is the catalyst which triggered the current unrest.

But the treatment of the service itself in the last eight years had caused a ''seismic shift'' in thinking within all Garda sections, he wrote.

Whitewash, Bamboozlement

Said Carty: ''Many Gardai feel undervalued and alienated. Reasonable expectations and basic needs have been overlooked.

''Instead of problems being addressed directly, they have been fobbed off -- instead of real support they got lip service and slogans.''

Gardai, wrote Carty yesterday, ''apparently have had enough of this rhetoric, whitewash and bamboozlement.''

Meanwhile, the Labour Court has recommended early 2017 as the implementation date for most of its proposed increases, fuller details of which will emerge today.

Worked Hard

Yesterday, the  'landscape' changed several times as the Labour Court, chaired by Kevin Foley, worked hard to fine-tune its recommendations.

Shortly after 10pm last night, middle rank managers in the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) were the first to ''call off'' today's strike action.

One hour later the 31 members executive of the GRA -- meeting in the same Phibsboro building overlooking Dalymount Park -- deferred today's strike action, too.

Cut Slack

Earlier yesterday the GRA 'cut some slack' for the Government and for senior Garda management trying to plan strike cover.

As few as 78 stations across the country might have been able to open today if the strike had gone ahead, ''The Irish Independent'' has suggested.

The GRA identified for members 18 categories which could be exempted from today's planned strike. These included:-

01. Emergency Response Unit [ERU];

02. Regional Support Units [RSU];

03. Garda Technical Bureau [Mapping, Fingerprints, Ballistics, Photographic];

04. Critical Incident/Major Emergency response capabilities;

05. Communications Rooms;

06. Protection & Escort Personnel/Units;

07. National Surveillance Unit;

08. Static Protection Posts;

09. Special Detective Unit;

10. Intelligence Sections;

11. Witness Security Programme Unit;

12. VIP protection;

13. Garda Drugs Organised Crime Bureau;

14. Special Dedicated Embassy Patrols;

15. Immigration Units;

16. Forensic Collision Investigators;

17. Attend to prosecutions in court;

18. Student and Probationer Gardaí.