Fórsa trade union has withdrawn its support for the long-running Garda equal pay case concerning clerical officers following legal advice.
The case had been most recently before the Labour Court again in April this year following a 2014 High Court judgement.
On foot of the High Court ruling, the Labour Court identified a number of comparators, drawn at random by the Court, from among other Garda officers doing clerical work.
The original case, taken by eight CPSU CO grade women members in 2000, was followed by six more in 2005 and was based on male Garda comparators who performed clerical work exclusively.
The Labour Court instructed the union in April to base its arguments for equal pay using new male comparator Gardaí who carried out traditional Garda ‘sworn’ duties as well as some clerical work.
In a letter to Civil Service branches and the union’s national executive last week (15th July), General Secretary Eoin Ronayne said the union’s decision to discontinue its support followed a comprehensive review by Fórsa’s legal advisers of the options and status of the long running case.
He added: “The advice by senior counsel held out no hope of success following the decision by the Labour Court in late spring to reject completely our arguments against the selection of new comparator Gardaí by the Court on foot of the High Court Judgement in 2014.
“The lengthy legal battle involved partial success at the Equality Officer investigative stage, rejection at the Labour Court on appeal in 2007, referral to the High Court on points of law in 2012, followed by a hearing at the European Court of Justice in 2013 and then the subsequent ruling by the High Court in 2014.
“The Labour Court was instructed by the High Court to re-hear the case but subject to what have turned out to be significant changes in the selection process for new comparators from the ‘generality of Gardaí doing clerical work’. In the course of several hearings and case conferences at the Labour Court since 2016 the scope for mounting the original claim for equal pay with Gardaí doing only clerical duties became closed off in its entirety,” he wrote.
Eoin said the union was in the process of advising the Labour Court and the individual claimants about its decision to withdraw from the case. He said a planned a wider follow-on claim, launched in 2006, was dependant on success in this initial case and, consequently, this would not proceed any further.
Eoin added: “Over the years since the case was launched the number of male Gardaí working exclusively in clerical functions has dropped considerably and the current Garda senior management has confirmed the stepping up of the ‘civilianisation’ programme across the country.
“Fórsa is committed to ensuring that the roll out of that plan will deliver more promotional opportunities and better conditions for members.”