Independent Media Centre Ireland

Garda Ballot on Industrial Action

category national | worker & community struggles and protests | news report author Monday December 07, 2009 21:41author by James McB WSM personal capacity

Action illegal under 2005 Garda Act

The Garda Representative Association today announced a ballot of their members for possible industrial action.

Todays' announcement of possible industrial action by the Gardai is in the words of Demot Ahern Minister for Justice, "A direct challenge to the authority of the state." This is the kind of language usually reserved for Shell to Sea, anti -war or other protesters who go beyond passive protest and engage in direct action.

The GRA are pushing the boundaries of what action they may take, even the calling of a ballot is in flagrant breach of the 2005 Garda Act. It is clear that the radicalisation of younger members of the Gardai is significant and that the pressure from these members is driving the leadership into this unprecedented action. Of course its' all down to economics as wages diminish these Gardai are finding it hard to get by and pay their mortgages. If they don't fightback now they realise that there will be further cuts and that their situation can only worsen.

The government is in a serious dilema , if they tolerate this it will send a signal to every worker in the country that even the Gardai are prepared to challenge the state through industrial action (illegal industrial action) and so should everyone. If on the other hand they take legal moves against the Gardai or the GRA they risk inflaming an already serious situation and if they won the complete demoralisation of the force. The only option is to begin negotiations. But if they concede anthing then everyone else will want the same.

Not withstanding the extremely reactionary history of the Gardai and their ongoing role in crushing dissent and protecting capitalism, this is extremely good news for the working class. First it shows that the anger felt by workers is universal regardless of the role in the state apparatus , secondly it means the Gardai are now less reliable to the government which will undermine their confidence in fighting the current workers anger and most importantly it yet again exposes the weak kneed approach of ICTU and will help those within the unions arguing for more radical action.

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