The Defence Forces’ largest representative organisation is to demand Minister Simon Coveney pay the Naval Service “heroes” who have rescued thousands of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea their proper entitlements.
PDforra (Permanent Defence Forces Other Ranks’ Representative Association) will also demand that the 10% cut in wages imposed on new recruits post-2013 be reversed and new sick pay entitlement reductions introduced in the civil service not enforced on its members.
The demands will be made at the association’s three-day annual conference which opens in Galway today.
Around 125 delegates — representing nearly 7,000 personnel in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps — will also hear calls for improvements in inadequate accommodation in army barracks and the naval headquarters in Haulbowline.
PDforra is furious by the refusal of the Department of Defence to pay the crews of ships serving on the humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean what it says is the proper Overseas Peace Support Allowance (OPSA).
There are two allowances payable under OPSA. One is a standard rate of €55 per day for non-armed missions and the other is €80 per day for armed missions.
PDforra argues the crews should be paid the higher allowance as their ships are armed and, at various times on operations, their crews have to carry weapons.
The association — which is seeking union status through the European courts — has said it’s completely unacceptable, especially with the upturn in the economy, that a 10% cut in wages continues to be imposed on recruits who joined in the past two years.
The Government has already rowed back on similar cuts to new recruits in the gardaí, fire brigade, and prison officers.
PDforra has said it will not sign up to the new Lansdowne Agreement on pay restoration until the 10% is restored.
It will also “fight tooth and nail” to oppose the introduction of the typical civil service cut in full sick pay from 26 to 13 weeks, citing that Defence Forces personnel are, like other emergency services, more likely to suffer sickness and injury during the course of duty.
The White Paper on Defence says that €437m should be set aside for capital projects in the Defence Forces and PDforra maintains a good chunk of this should go to improving archaic accommodation at bases.
Naval Service personnel are having to sleep in ships which are tied up for routine maintenance because there is not enough accommodation onshore at their Haulbowline baseand some personnel find it impossible to sleep because of the noise.
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