Thursday, 13 April 2017
Trade Union (Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces) Bill 2017: First Stage
This is a Bill to: remove the bar on a Garda Síochána or Defence Forces association from associating with, or affiliating to, any trade union or any other association; remove the bar on a Defence Force member from becoming a member of a Defence Force association that may wish to reconstitute itself as a trade union; and prohibit the use of strike action by an Garda Síochána or Defence Forces associations and trade unions for reasons of public safety. We believe that the Bill and the restrictions outlined in it strike a balance between the rights of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces and the rights of the people to protection. This Bill would, for the first time, allow members of the An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces and their organisations to be classified as workers in law and allow members to join trade unions and engage in the State's industrial relations mechanisms in pursuit of improvement of pay and conditions. The only associations that members of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces would be able to join under this Bill would be those already established under existing legislation. These associations can apply to register as trade unions and then apply for negotiation licences.
The Garda and the Defence Forces associations, once reconstituted as trade unions, would be allowed to engage in industrial action in pursuit of the protection of the pay and conditions of their members with certain restrictions. We believe that the Bill strikes a fair balance. I know that previous Bills have been introduced by Opposition parties in the past and that some concerns were raised about the lack of restrictions. We have taken all of those concerns on board and the Bill takes cognisance of them. I hope the Government will support the Bill when, at some point, we move it at Second Stage.