INDUSTRIAL peace comes at a price, but this cannot be at any price. The eleventh-hour capitulation by the government to the demands of the two associations representing ordinary members of An Garda Síochana and the ranks just above them – the GRA and the AGSI – shows its weakness and its lack of pro-activity in tackling the important issue of public sector pay saw it backed into a corner. And, it’s not over yet.
While the gardaí were a special case, as the government was not dealing with unions per se, the loosening of the public purse strings to placate them has set off demands from other workers in the public sector for more than they settled for under the Lansdowne Road Agreement, which they now want renegotiated. The government will have to insist that this is done within the parameters of the new Public Service Pay Commission, which now needs to hit the ground running in order to head off the country being further held to ransom, especially as we are still borrowing to fund day-to-day public services.
With the ASTI secondary teachers’ union testing the waters this week with industrial action, the government cannot afford to capitulate again.