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Sinn Féin to introduce Bill to allow Defence Forces and Garda personnel to form unions

13 April, 2017 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin TDs Aengus Ó Snodaigh and David Cullinane will today introduce a Bill in the Dáil that would allow members of the Irish Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána to be classified as ‘workers’ in legislation and to allow them to form trade unions.

Party Defence spokesperson Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“The purpose of the Trade Union (Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces) Bill 2017 is to allow the representative associations of an Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces to reconstitute themselves as trade unions, giving them full access to the State’s industrial relations mechanisms while making it illegal for an Garda and the Defence Forces to engage in strike action for reasons of public safety and national security.

“The background to the Bill lies in recent rulings by both the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe, the increase in industrial action within an Garda, and the continued negative treatment by the State of members’ of the defence forces in terms of pay and conditions.

“The continued Irish ban on trade unions within an Garda and the Defence Forces is in violation of international agreements and the fundamental rights of those employed in those sectors.

Workers’ Rights spokesperson Deputy Cullinane said:

“This Bill will see Gardaí and the Defence Forces personnel classified as “workers” in legislation for the first time. It will allow members to join a trade union and to engage in the state’s industrial relations mechanisms in pursuit of improvement of pay and conditions.

“The Garda and Defence Forces associations, once reconstituted as trade unions, will be allowed to engage in industrial action in pursuit of the protection of the pay and conditions of their members, with certain restrictions.

“The Bill will make it illegal for an Garda to undertake any strike action where such action would run contrary to the maintenance of public order.

“The Bill will allow an Garda to undertake other forms of industrial action, such as ‘work-to-rule’ etc., so as to protect their pay and conditions.

“It will also allow their representative bodies full access to the Labour Court and Workplace Relations Commission.

“The Bill confers similar rights on members of the Defence Forces.

“We believe that the restrictions outlined in this Bill strike a balance between the rights of an Garda and the Defence Forces and the rights of citizens to protection.” 

Note: Please see attached the Bill in question

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