Defence Forces Core Pay must be reviewed

12 September 2019

Labour Spokesperson for Defence, Brendan Ryan TD, has again called for the Government to commit to a review of core pay for Defence Forces staff, and to recognise that it is the primary cause of the staffing crisis, having previously raised this issue on numerous occassions in the Dáil.

Deputy Ryan said:

“The ongoing recruitment and retention issues in our Defence Forces poses an existential crisis to Oglaigh na h’Éireann and puts in jeopardy their ability to protect the state of Ireland, its territorial waters and airspace. 

“It is time once and for all for the Government to face up to this, and commit to a review of core pay, terms and conditions for members. As part of this, pay and allowances must be fully restored, and a commitment given that the unspent allocation to the Department of Defence for staffing is used

“What the Labour Party wants to see happen is staff paid a living wage, along with the provision of suitable and sufficient accommodation at barracks for personnel and their families.

“The Minister for Defence should also now accede to the long standing request for representative bodies of Defence Force personnel to affiliate to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

“The Public Service Pay Commission had its hands were tied behind its back during the previous review because the terms of reference precluded it from looking at the issue of Defence Forces core pay.

“The Government knows the Defence Forces cannot go on strike, therefore it’s members are to be treated differently and they are not to have the increase in their actual pay to which everyone in this House and everybody in the trade union movement would agree they are entitled.

“Less than 20 years ago, the Strength of the PDF stood at 10,559. In 2018, this had dropped to under 9,000, with a turnover rate of 8.1%, with 731 personnel exiting the force. In 2019, another 256 had left, with 86 dischargers alone in April. This level of turnover is simply unsustainable if we are to maintain the integrity of our security forces.

“The reality is, if the Government fails to provide a decent wage, a living wage, then this trend will only continue.

“It is hard to believe that nearly 85% of Irish military personnel earn less than the average industrial wage. The core of the Defence Forces is some 7,661 personnel who make-up the three most populated ranks – Private, 3 Star/ Seaman, First Class. In 2008, the scale for these three groups started at €26,082, rising to €30,429.

“At the end of the PSSA in 2020, this will have increased to a minimum point of €26,852 (3% increase) and a maximum point of €32,118 (5.5% increase). Yet under the recommendations proposed by the PSPC, the most populated ranks, – who make up some 92% of enlisted personnel – only stand to earn €0.96 gross per day under the PSPC recommendations.

“Not only is it insufficient, but it is also a completely short-sighted and inefficient strategy if the Government is serious about resolving the recruitment and retention challenges.

“It is simply not good enough for the Minister to hide behind the review of the pay commission when it was his very Government that pre-set the terms and the outcome by not allowing the commission to look at the issue of core pay.

“The core pay in the Defence Forces is a massive outlier in public sector pay. It needs to be rectified and this Commission’s recommendations do not go far enough. Our Defence Forces deserve better.”

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