Fórsa, has called for an immediate engagement with officials from the Department of Justice on the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill 2022, which was approved by the Government yesterday (Tuesday).
Fórsa represents more than 3,000 Garda civilian staff employed by the Department of Justice who work in a wide variety of non-policing roles alongside Gardaí.
The union says its Garda civilian members have very deep concerns about provisions in the Bill that will empower the Garda Commissioner to recruit Garda staff directly into the police service rather than to the Civil Service, as is currently the case.
Fórsa official Jim Mitchell explained: “Garda civilian staff provide a crucial range of services to the public, in roles that ensure Gardaí have greater capacity for direct policing work. As civil service staff, they complement the important work of the Gardaí.
We believe an opportunity was lost to inform the Minister and Cabinet of the concerns of an essential group of workers.
“The proposal in the new legislation would change the employment status of these civilian staff very significantly, confining them to the employment of An Garda Síochana. This would have the effect, for example, of closing off access to experienced staff with requisite skills transferring in from other parts of the Civil Service,” he said.
Jim said the union hosted a series of engagements about the measures proposed in the new Bill, during August and September, with Garda civilian Fórsa members. He said the concerns expressed by civilian staff were widespread across the Garda network: “The vast majority had concerns regarding the possible implications of the Bill should it be implemented in its current format.
“The major concerns expressed were loss of mobility, that civilian staff would be subject to GSOC governance, and that they would lose access to interdepartmental competitions in the Civil Service,” he said.
The minister’s reassurances will be insufficient for many of our members.
Mr Mitchell said the input of Garda civilian staff to the process was relayed to the department last month. The union has sought engagement but he said no meetings have yet taken place: “While the assurance of the Minister in her statement yesterday, regarding future trade union engagement on the Bill, is reassuring, we believe an opportunity was lost to inform the Minister and Cabinet of the concerns of an essential group of workers.
“The upshot of that approach is that members will have legitimate concerns that changes to their employment status is a foregone conclusion for the department. In that regard, the minister’s reassurances will be insufficient for many of our members,” he said.
“Nonetheless, we will use the available opportunity to continue to work to represent these workers fully, and to protect their terms and conditions of employment,” he said.
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