The Labour Court may ask for a postponement of strike action as talks with the GRA get underway this afternoon
Fianna Fail’s Justice spokesman has called on garda unions to consider postponing Friday’s industrial action in order to protect the safety of the state.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) will attend separate talks today and tomorrow at the Labour Court in a last-ditch attempt to avoid what would be the first official garda strike in Irish history.
Talks with the GRA are taking place today and it is thought the court may ask for a postponement of the action in order to allow it to arrive at a ruling.
Gardaí are planning 24 hour strike action every Friday this month as part of a dispute over wages and access to industrial relations mechanisms.
Jim O’Callaghan said the country “is not going to be safe” if more than 12,000 gardaí go through with plans to walk off the job.
Deputy O’Callaghan has appealed to both the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) to consider calling off the action pending this afternoon’s Labour Court hearing.
“I think we need some time. I would ask the GRA and the AGSI to postpone Friday’s strike to give the labour court time,” he said.
“We are not asking them to call off all the future strikes. Postpone Friday’s Strike, give the labour court time and let’s see if we can reach a resolution.”
Neil Garvey, CEO of Muintir na Tíre - the group that organises the Community Alert system in rural areas - said people around the country are “very concerned” at the prospect of a strike:
The Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan has already written to every member of the force instructing them to turn up for work on Friday - and cancelling all leave.
AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham said the focus for the next two days needs to be on finding a resolution to avoid the action.
She said the issues at stake in today’s talks have been well reported:
Ms Cunningham said it is unclear how gardaí could be disciplined if they choose to ignore the Commissioner O’Sullivan’s instruction to turn up for work on Friday.
“I suppose at this point in time, it is not something that I would even put my energies into speculating about,” she said.
“If it is something that occurs as a consequence of something that may happen on Friday, then we will deal with it at that point but I think at this point our only energy is being focused on trying to a find a resolution and we remain committed to that process right up to Friday morning.”
A number of government ministers have also urged the garda unions to defer the planned strikes in recent days following the decision to reject pay proposals put forward in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
Retired Garda Detective Sergeant Alan Bailey said he supports garda calls for better pay but would prefer to see the industrial action called off.
“There is a silent majority, I believe, that do not favour this stance that the bodies are taking,” he said.
“It is the fault of management and government that they are placed in this position but it is a step too far I honestly do believe.”