Military bosses call for independent pay review board

Defence Forces bosses want the Government to establish an independent pay review board, similar to ones in Britain and Australia, to curtail the exodus of highly trained personnel who are leaving for better wages and conditions elsewhere.

LÉ Samuel Beckett and crew heading for the Mediterranean. Picture: Denis Minihane

That is just one of 10 recommendations by senior officers to the Department of Defence, who say retention needs to be seriously addressed in the army, naval service, and air corps.

They want a similar body set up to the British Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body. It provides independent advice to the British prime minister and minister for defence on pay and conditions, with particular emphasis that these are at least broadly comparable with civilian jobs.

The Australians have the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal, also an independent body, which determines the level of salaries and allowances for military personnel.

A delegation from the British Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body had been invited to address a conference hosted by RACO (the organisation which represents Irish Defence Forces officers), held in Naas, Co Kildare, last October.

The British delegation was forced to pull out at the last minute after the Department of Defence intervened to block their attendance at the conference.

The Department of Defence told the British that any talks about pay should be on a government-to-government basis — a move criticised by senior RACO officials at the conference.

The recommendation to set up an independent pay review body is contained in a report issued by Irish military top brass, which has been seen by the Irish Examiner.

The report states that a review should also be carried out on current remuneration packages in the Defence Forces, to include pay and allowances.

A number of allowances were slashed during the recession.

Top brass want weekend security duty allowances restored to 2010 levels. They have also suggested that the same be done with Naval Service patrol allowances and overseas peace support allowances, which were also decreased eight years ago.

During the Public Pay Service Stability Agreement, it emerged that “side deals” were done whereby gardaí, prison officers, and firefighters got rent allowance increases, but the Defence Forces were overlooked.

In an effort to address the exodus of highly trained specialists in particular, Defence Forces leaders have called for special payments to be introduced.

In particular, senior military staff are anxious to have these introduced to retain pilots, air traffic controllers, IT specialists, bomb disposal personnel, and army and naval service engineers.

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