Police follow nurses' example and seek special commission

Rank-and-file members of the Irish police force plan a protest march on the Irish Parliament - the Dail- on 16 April 1997 to press home their case for the first independent review of police pay since 1981.

A protest march on the Dail by rank-and-file members of the Irish police force, the Garda Siochana, was due to take place on 16 April to highlight their demand for the first independent review of police pay since 1981.

Replying to the demand for a review, the Minister for Justice, Nora Owen, ruled it out and said that any such demands could be met only within the ambit of the recently negotiated national agreement, Partnership 2000(Record IE9702103F). A clause in Partnership 2000confines any additional pay increases - over and above the basic cost-of-living increases - to an extra 2% "of the basic pay cost of the particular grade, group or category of employee" concerned. This 2% cannot be negotiated before 1999 and is also conditional on the implementation of a modernisation programme within the context of the Strategic Management Initiative (SMI) within the public service. A central aim of the SMI is the delivery of a better service to the public.

The protest, planned by organisations representing Ireland's 11,000-strong police force, comes in the wake of the recent settlement of a dispute over nurses' pay, which included provision for a commission to examine a range of issues related to the nursing profession (Record IE9702104N). A Labour Court recommendation, which was accepted by the nurses and by Government, ended the threat of a strike by nurses in February of this year. The Court had insisted that the nurses' case was "unique". In making this observation, the Court (its recommendations are non-binding) was clearly of the view that all pay claims must stay within the parameters set by national pay agreements, such as the current Partnership 2000 which runs until the end of the century. Organisations representing police are not directly represented at the negotiating table when these national agreements are being drawn up, and in common with associations representing members of the armed forces, the police are precluded in law from taking industrial action.

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