Members of the country's Reserve Defence Forces (RDF) are being paid on average 18% less than the rates being given to their counterparts in the regular forces.
The Department of Defence is currently paying members of the reserve at a rate lower than the lowest point on the corresponding Permanent Defence Forces pay scale for each rank. Whilst the vast majority of Reservists’ service is voluntary and unpaid, they are entitled to payment in respect of full-time training.
Neil Richardson, general secretary of the Reserve Defence Force Representative Association (RDFRA) said that, as enshrined in two ministerial-authorised Defence Forces regulations, such payments should be made at the corresponding lowest point on the Permanent Defence Forces pay scale for their rank, but even this is not being adhered to.
“Requests to the Department of Defence to resolve this matter have been consistently met with claims that this issue is an extremely complicated one, and that ever more periods of research and data gathering are required before the matter can be addressed,” Mr Richardson said.
Poor pay is causing a major exodus of highly trained personnel from the permanent ranks of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps. Getting even less in the RDF is also having a major bearing on its ability to recruit personnel.
Mr Richardson said the RDFRA is disappointed to note that the Minister with responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe “has essentially forgotten about the existence of the association, and the fact that payment issues are also critically affecting members of the Reserve".
He pointed to a recent newspaper report where Mr Kehoe had stated that he and his department, in conjunction with military management, had been working around the clock to address pay and conditions issues and this also involved talks with two representatives associations – RACO (for the officers) and PDFORRA (representing enlisted personnel.)
“The Defence Forces comprises the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force. There are three official and recognised representative associations tasked with representing on behalf of the Defence Forces, with RDFRA being the association tasked with advocating for the Reserve,” Mr Richardson said.
Meanwhile, PDFORRA general secretary Ger Guinan said any recommendations from the Public Service Pay Commission on increased remuneration for Defence Forces personnel needs to implemented by the government "as a matter of urgency."
It is likely that the commission will recommend increases in military service allowances for personnel, who are the worst paid public of all servants.