Monday 17 December 2018

Military staff seen as 'soft touch' as they're left behind in salary talks

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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Military personnel are being left behind in public sector pay talks because they are excluded from negotiations on side deals.

The two associations representing staff across all ranks in the Defence Forces are now demanding radical reform of pay mechanism by the Government.

They say they have been marginalised under the current set-up and reduced to division two status in State industrial relations structures.

They also claim they are being targeted as a "soft touch" by the Government as they are prevented from acquiring trade union status and don't have the right to take industrial action.

Both Raco, representing officers, and Pdforra, on behalf of soldiers, sailors and air crew, have made it clear they are not seeking power to strike but say they should not be placed at a disadvantage, compared with Garda associations and others.

Prior to the 2017 pay talks, the two associations were told by officials from the Departments of Public Expenditure and Defence there would be no side deals included in the negotiations. However, the chairwoman of the Workplace Relations Commission, Ms Oonagh Buckley, subsequently confirmed publicly that side deals were a regular and accepted feature of the talks.

According to Pdforra general secretary Ger Guinan, a conciliation and arbitration scheme established in 1991 to mirror a similar mechanism available for the Garda is no longer fit for purpose. He says this scheme is failing Pdforra members and, combined with their treatment at the national pay talks, is a key factor in the steady loss of experienced personnel.

"Recent statistics, obtained by Pdforra, show a defence organisation with a turnover in excess of 30pc over five years," he said. "This is unsustainable, unhealthy and deeply reflective of the disquiet and disillusionment being felt by our members," he said.

Irish Independent

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