Ministers will discuss a pay and allowances deal for the Defence Forces at Cabinet today. The weekly meeting will be delayed until late this evening as the Taoiseach remains in Brussels this morning where EU leaders have been unable to reach agreement on filling essential positions in Europe.
However, Cabinet is due to be briefed on the recommendations in the Public Sector Pay Commission’s report into the Defence Forces which includes increases in military allowances which were done away with during the economic downturn.
The report was delivered to the Government several weeks ago and it is understood that officials in the departments of defence and public expenditure had been back and forth since then to sign off on a package of measures.
It is expected that the patrol duty allowance and the military service allowance will both be increased. Also under consideration is the possibility of allowing the Defence Forces’ representative bodies, PDForra and Raco, to affiliate to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Government has been under pressure to restore pay and allowances in the Defence Forces in a bid to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently told the Dáil that the current staff turnover rate of 8% i s unacceptable and should be reduced to 5% to ensure that healthy staffing levels are maintained. However,Mr Varadkar ruled out any increases to pay, pensions or allowances, claiming it would not be “fair” to “single out” one group in the public sector above any other.
“We cannot provide a fast track to pay restoration and additional allowances to one group of public servants without accepting that it will have a knock-on effect across the board,” he said. Any new package is likely to prompt a raft of similar calls from other public sector groups, which Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has repeatedly said would not be affordable.
Meanwhile, Arts Minister Josepha Madigan is expected to bring forward proposals to change the Per Cent for Art scheme to increase the amount allocated under the various bands.