Written answers

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Department of Justice and Equality

Garda Industrial Relations

Photo of Jonathan O'BrienJonathan O'Brien (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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81. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the funding stream that will be used to make additional payments to Garda as a result of recent industrial action; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34824/16]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy will be aware, following intensive negotiations between the Government, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) facilitated by the Workplace Relations Commission, the Labour Court issued a recommendation on 3 November last in relation to the dispute. In the case of individual members, the recommendation for the GRA and AGSI would provide extra remuneration of around €4,000 on average to a member of the Service over the next 12 months through:

- an increase in the value of the rent allowance by €500 bringing it to €4,655 per annum with effect from 1 January 2017;

- the integration of the rent allowance in the new amount of €4,655 into salary with consequential increases in unsocial hours and overtime payments also with effect from 1 January 2017;

- the introduction of a €15 premium payment per annual leave day to compensate for the uncertainty attaching to the taking of leave by Gardaí. This payment will be worth €510 per annum to a Garda with 34 days annual leave;

- the implementation of a long-standing recommendation of the Garda Inspectorate through the introduction of paid 15 minute pre-tour briefing or tasking sessions with effect from 1 January 2017.

Under the Labour Court recommendation, new recruits who do not currently receive rent allowance, will have it restored, in addition to the other improvements I just listed. In addition, the increment freeze in place for GRA members since 1 July will be lifted and any arrears arising from increments foregone will be paid.

The Government has also made it clear that it is committed to introducing legislative change to give the Garda Associations the right of access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

On foot of the Labour Court recommendation, the GRA and AGSI agreed to defer the intended industrial action over the course of the four Fridays in November to facilitate a ballot of their membership. This was a very welcome decision by the Garda associations and has ensured that a full policing service remains in place.

The Government fully respects the decision of the Labour Court as the independent industrial relations body of last resort in the State and agreed last week to accept its recommendation. The outcome of the process is now being examined in detail by all sides and it is hoped that it will form the basis for a final resolution of this dispute following the balloting of members of AGSI and the GRA in due course.

The independent recommendation of the Labour Court seeks to address the concerns that have been articulated by the representative bodies in relation to their pay and conditions including of new recruits, and their access to the statutory dispute resolution bodies. The nature of the Labour Court's recommendation is such that some of the cost of the implementation of the proposals, if they are accepted by the members of AGSI and the GRA, depend on the amount of overtime worked in any year. That said, I am advised that, depending on a number of variables, the estimated gross annual cost of implementing the Labour Court Recommendation could exceed €50m; however, this gross cost will be offset by statutory deductions for tax, PRSI, etc., which will reduce the net Exchequer cost.

Once the outcome of the ballots is known and if the proposals are accepted, the additional budgetary cost will be the subject of discussions between my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

What is most important at this juncture is that members of AGSI and the GRA are afforded the time and space to give the Labour Court's recommendation the detailed consideration that it deserves.


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