More than 30 recruits in the Naval Service who have been in training for the past five weeks received just €200 in pay from the Department of Defence until they were finally paid in full on November 22.
Several recruits in the Army, who enlisted on October 16, also didn’t get their full pay until the same day. Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) held a whip round to help some of them out.
PDFORRA, which represents 6,500 enlisted men in the Defence Forces, said it had made numerous representations to the Department of Defence on these issues and intervened to prevent the cash-strapped recruits being charged €2 every time they had to use washing machines in barracks.
The 56-strong crew of LÉ Niamh, who departed Haulbowline on October 6, weren’t paid their allowances until November 8.
PDFORRA president Mark Keane said it was bad enough that pay was so low in the Defence Forces, but the failure then to provide young recruits in particular with wages and allowances for several weeks was “nothing short of disgraceful”.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. Last June, Naval Service officers also organised a whip-round to help recruits who hadn’t been paid for a number of weeks.
Mr Keane said there was an ongoing “systematic problem” with paying people on time and it appears to be getting worse.
“What happens if these young recruits have commitments like car loans or child maintenance? These are the most vulnerable people we have. They are only starting out in their careers. The majority are school-leavers so how could they have any savings to dip into?” the PDFORRA president said.
Mr Keane said he was amazed that despite this shabby treatment the young recruits still wanted to do their duty.
“They should be commended for staying without getting paid,” he said.
The Department of Defence said that in recent weeks there had been a significant amount of recruits joining up at various military installations around the country.
In a statement it said that payrolls are prepared in advance by the department’s payroll provider and therefore there is a lead in time before recruits are placed on the payroll.
‘Every effort is made to ensure that recruits are placed on the earliest possible payroll following their recruitment,” the statement added.
The payment delays were also highlighted by the Wives & Partners of Defence Force members.
They are also campaigning for better pay and conditions for those serving in the military and are planning a protest outside the Dáil on November 30.