Another day, another group of workers looking for a rise in pay. This time it is the Gardaí. Is it warranted?
In my opinion, yes, and this is why.
Gardaí are often seen as the cornerstones of our community and since the downturn in 2008 they have been hit as hard as any other public servant body.
Hiring freezes were introduced in 2011. The force was expected to be increased to close to 16,000 Gardaí, but instead was reduced to 13,000.
The knock-on effect of this has been incredible.
Gardaí are under-staffed and over-worked. A survey published last week stated that Gardaí are 10 times more likely to be injured than the average worker. They are forced to work unsociable hours, including weekend shifts and overnight shifts from 8pm to 6am.
Gardaí often work up to six days a week because of these demanding shifts and shortfalls in staffing.
We are continually hearing reports of increased intimidation on the streets. The Journal reported an incident where a pregnant female Garda was told by a criminal that he would rape her and her unborn child.
They are also the only state employees who have to wear bullet proof vests as part of their daily job. They are under constant threat from members of the public and are often taken for granted.
They are criticised for their lack of presence at certain events or for not handling situations correctly, but in reality this is often out of their control. They can only work with the resources they have.
The main reason I feel this pay increase is warranted is because there is simply no one else to do their job. Without their presence we are utterly defenceless.
We have seen the Luas drivers come out in force, supported by their Union with a strong we will not budge stance, resulting in numerous disruptive strikes. With the Gardaí, we simply cannot afford this kind of disturbance.
A survey taken by The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) revealed that out of 1,000 Gardaí, 84 per cent have said that pay is their number one issue.
At present a newly-graduated Gardaí earns €8,000 less than their colleagues.
It is time to listen to the men and women who are on the front line of our streets. Our Gardaí deserve a pay rise and it is high time they were given one.
Image Credit: Darragh Culhane