garda review Editorial April 2013
Always excluded from real pay talks
The denial of trade union status to members of the Force, has since its inception, limited the isolated the Garda
Representative Association from mechanisms and state apparatus essential to modern industrial relations between all workers and their employers. Nowhere has this been more obvious than in pay negotiations.
While our message has been consistent, and where we have said it so often, that media commentators have correctly put it
to politicians and other unions on our behalf: we were never involved or were never going to form part of any significant movement in the discussions under the Croke Park II proposals.
Yet our political masters have decided that the only way they can combat the unfairness of our exile from
the pay talks, it to repeatedly pretend that we could have somehow influenced discussions in a far-off room. It is extremely disingenuous to continue to propagate the notion that somehow or other the garda staff
associations would have influenced the outcome. That simply was not the case, and as previously, any proposals from various trade unions or the labour relations commission were presented to garda staff
associations as a fait accompli.
Just in case anyone has been missed it; the two staff associations representing higher ranks remained in those so-called
discussions throughout the process; their continued presence was inconsequential to any decisions emanating from Lansdowne House. When government and trade unions are in negotiations, gardaí are excluded from
During negotiations for Croke Park I, our involvement was limited to discussions around sectoral reform and the
transformation agenda – we were granted limited, but necessary input into the mechanism for altering the rostering system and other marginal modernisation processes that would impact upon our working
practices: But not our pay or the composition of our pay.
This discrimination militates our influence on the negotiators from the unions. We are denied the opportunity to voice the
distinctive or arcane working practices of a garda, or the pay structure of the Force. Such archaic disenfranchisement needs attention in a modern democracy; especially a nation that has placed itself in the
heart of Europe and European thinking. As the current custodians of the European presidency, our members should be afforded the basic equality of such a fundamental right.
Our cause is a just one. We are seeking a voice at future negotiations – and we also demand a cessation of the
government misinformation from a well-resourced propaganda machine.
Garda disaffection is a rightly emotive issue, and has found resonance in public opinion. The people are aware of the
difficulties we face with diminishing numbers and reduced resources compounding the occupational hazards, risks and mortal danger. Opinion polls bear this out, and this will not have gone unnoticed in political
Even when members of Ireland’s elite have attempted to expound that we are lucky to have a job in this country, they
have found it to have little traction with public opinion. Our nation has progressed since Croke Park I was implemented in 2010. No longer is the national conversation dividing public and private sector workers;
all workers have realised there is a race to the bottom in terms of wages with these constant attrition-level impositions on pay and conditions. The one single element that undermines the proposals and process
of Croke Park II is completely overlooked – the banks have failed to write-down mortgages, without such a precondition, reduced wages of any orientation will only see more workers in further difficulty.
No country can make progress without justice, education and health. No democratic nation can exist without its police
officers, nurses and teachers. Yet, since the foundation of the State, gardaí have been denied association with other workers’ representatives and moreover, a right to talk about their own pay and
conditions in any state mechanism.
If we have learned anything from Croke Park; it is a future priority to secure an invitation to the real pay talks
– a seat at the big table.