146k leave days lost in Defence Forces

Soldiers, sailors and aircrews lost a combined 146,000 days annual leave in the last five years, primarily because reduced numbers in the Defence Forces meant they had to plug gaps.

PDForra, which represents enlisted personnel in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps estimate that saved the Department of Defence anything between €17m-€22m.

The association’s general secretary, Gerry Guinan, said shortages in personnel mean bomb disposal officers are working an average of 76 hours a week, while NCOs are doing 56 hour/weeks and drivers anything up to 60 hours per week.

PDForra have called for the immediate implementation of the EU Working Time Directive for members of the Defence Forces.

Mr Guinan said the frustration about excessive workloads could be clearly seen in commentary contained in the recently published Climate Survey Report, which shows significant levels of dissatisfaction across the officer and enlisted ranks.

“It is not good enough that we do not have clarity on this issue and that no date has been given for the bringing forward of legislation on the implementation of this directive.”

Mr Guinan said he had no doubt that excessively long hours had contributed to a significant exodus from the Defence Forces.

He pointed out that as far back as 2013 the Government knew that the EU Working Time Directive applies to members of the Defence Forces: “Yet here we are in 2017 with still no word on the implementation of this legislation giving effect to its protections to members of the Defence Forces. Our members need clarity, they deserve clarity.”

His association has claimed that the Department of Defence is failing to provide for the provision of the Paternity Leave and Benefits Act to serving personnel.

Outgoing PDForra president, Mark Scally, said this legislation clearly intended members of the Defence Forces to benefit from it like everybody else: “Therefore one has to ask why is it that legislation, which benefits male members of the population, has not been provided for within an organisation with 93% male personnel.”

Meanwhile, PDForra announced yesterday that it is setting up a new scheme to fund MRI scans for its members who are facing discharge on medical grounds.

“We have decided to assist members who are facing discharge by funding an MRI scan which can show that the medical reasons being given for the discharge have been rectified or healed. We are surprised and disappointed the MRI cost is not being met by the Department of Defence. Asking people to go on a waiting list to clarify a medical issue as you are about to face forced unemployment is not a realistic option,” Mr Guinan said.

He said a fund of €10,000 has been set aside to support this initiative and it is likely that will become larger into the future: “We plan to review the scheme in mid 2018. We have always tried to assist and support our members in various ways and this necessary initiative is very much part of this wider approach by this representative organisation.”

The MRIs will be made available at 11 Affidea medical centres around the country.


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