Thursday 22 August 2019

Military officials claim they were excluded from 'side deals' at pay talks

Defence Minister Paul Kehoe
Defence Minister Paul Kehoe
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Military officers have accused the Department of Defence of betrayal by allowing them to be excluded from "side deals" at public sector pay talks.

Officers claimed that department officials had reneged on an obligation to look after the interests of military personnel, who could not participate directly at the negotiating table because they did not have trade union status. They also claimed the department had scuppered the attendance of representatives from the UK Armed Forces Pay Review Body at an industrial relations forum organised by their representative association, RACO.

The Department of Defence denied last night that it had been in contact with the UK pay review body.

Members of the Dáil and Seanad, and a panel of specialists, were among those at the forum which examined whether the Defence Forces industrial relations mechanisms and representative status were fit for purpose.

The forum heard every other public sector group was given "side deals", approved by the Government, during pay talks. But it was claimed that RACO representatives, who were kept at the other end of the room, did not find out about those deals for two weeks, and were not informed of them by the department.

Col Earnán Naughton stressed that his members were not interested in trade union status or in the right to strike - but this meant they could not be treated like other public sector groups, who had access to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Workplace Relations Commission. In the UK, he said, the government had an obligation to respect the special position of the armed forces to ensure they were not discriminated against.

RACO president Shane Keogh said members were frustrated at the lack of action to deal with key issues such as retention of personnel, leading to a chronic exodus of skilled specialists.

Irish Independent

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