Written answers

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Department of Defence

Trade Union Recognition

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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245. To ask the Minister for Defence his plans to provide trade union rights for pay and negotiations to PDFORRA, similar to the rights EU courts stipulated the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors should have and as the right to withdraw labour is not being sought by PDFORRA; if this process could be advanced quicker. [47241/14]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I assume the Deputy is referring to findings of the European Committee on Social Rights (ECSR) that current arrangements for industrial relations in An Garda Síochána are not in compliance with aspects of the European Social Charter. In a non-binding ruling, the Committee found that Ireland was not in compliance with:

- Article 5 of the Charter (the right to organise) on grounds of the prohibition against police representative associations from joining national employees’ organisations;

- Article 6$2 of the Charter (the right to bargain collectively) on grounds of restricted access of police representative associations to national pay agreement discussions; and

- Article 6$4 of the Charter on grounds of the prohibition of the right to strike of members of the police force.

With regard to the findings of the ECSR, I understand that the review of the Garda Síochána under the Haddington Road Agreement, which is currently underway, is examining mechanisms for the future resolution of matters relating to industrial relations and will have regard to these issues.

In the light of the recent ECSR findings, PDFORRA have recently sought a review of the present industrial relations arrangements machinery and practices in the Defence sector. This is a particularly difficult and sensitive issue, including for other Members States, and raises complex questions for Ireland from a legal, operational and management perspective. In this context it is critically important that the Defence Forces are fully operational at all times, and it must be emphasised that the taking of any form of industrial action is irreconcilable with military law. These issues require careful detailed considered input from all relevant parties.

My officials are fully committed to engagement with all the relevant parties on these issues with a view to seeking solutions which respect the Charter and developments in other sectors. It is only in the full knowledge of all aspects of this issue that full and careful consideration can be given to any proposed change in the present arrangements.


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