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Monday, March 27, 2023

Garda roster row intensifies as sergeants and inspectors to protest next Monday

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) will hold what it has called a “day of action” next Monday in a long-running dispute with Garda management over proposed new rosters.

he AGSI has also not ruled out the possibility of strikes should the dispute not be resolved.

The revised rostering system is opposed by the vast majority of gardaí including the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the AGSI.

The AGSI represents around 2,500 officers and a special delegate conference – only the second such meeting in the body’s 45-year history – was held in Athlone yesterday.

After the meeting the body announced that its membership had mandated the national executive to commence a number of “days of action” over health, safety and welfare issues arising from the new roster.

This is phase one of a two-part agreed strategy where the initial focus for the next four weeks will be on health, safety and welfare of the members of AGSI.

If matters are not addressed sufficiently, the strategy will be elevated at the association’s annual delegate conference next month to phase two which will be a discussion on a mandate for all forms of industrial action.

Speaking at the delegate conference, AGSI general secretary Antoinette Cunningham said: “The membership is angry, upset and frustrated that just over five weeks from now they do not know what their work pattern is, a situation which would just be unacceptable in any other workplace.

“In March 2020, members moved overnight to a new roster to police the Covid-19 pandemic, and undertakings by the Garda Commissioner that we would return to our normal working patterns have not been honoured.

“A ballot of the membership on new roster proposals was rejected by AGSI members in October 2022 and a dispute on the matter commenced then. AGSI have sought that roster negotiations are reopened but the Garda Commissioner has refused to allow this.

“The membership is demanding action and the national executive will deliver the very clear mandate that was issued to them today.”

The AGSI’s first “day of action” will be on March 13 when 100 members of AGSI, representing each of its 31 branches and national executive, will conduct a protest march to Garda Headquarters and hand a letter to the Garda Commissioner outlining their concerns.

The organisation said that the second “day of action” will proceed if their concerns are not addressed.

Yesterday, Garda Headquarters responded to the latest developments in the simmering industrial relations dispute.

“Following three years of discussions with the garda associations on a revised roster, without consensus being reached, the Garda Commissioner has written to the director general of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to request the assistance of the WRC’s conciliation service on garda roster reform,” a spokesman for Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said.

“The Commissioner is of the view that all internal industrial relations processes have been exhausted in relation to a revised garda roster,” he added.

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