There is a strong likelihood the country’s military officers will reject the Public Service Pay Commission’s (PSPC) “paltry set of recommendations for increased allowances” unless the Government acts swiftly to address key issues highlighted by the association which represents them.
Professional staff from representing the Representative Association for Commissioned Officers (Raco) have been conducting a roadshow at the country’s military installations for the last two weeks to discuss the fallout from the PSPC report with the 1,100 officers they represent.
Raco general secretary Commandant Conor King said his members’ response to the report “has been one of anger, disappointment, and frustration at the paltry set of recommendations” the PSPC has proposed “to arrest the retention crisis in the Defence Forces”.
“It is clear that the reported €10m suite of measures in isolation will not be enough to stem the outflow of highly skilled personnel from Óglaigh na hÉireann,” said Comdt King.
The Government recently announced the formation of a high-level implementation plan, headed by the Department of An Taoiseach, which is supposed to look at ways of stemming the ever-increasing exodus from the Defence Forces. The exodus is being blamed primarily on poor pay and conditions.
Comdt King said Raco members “remain sceptical of the Department of Defence’s bona fides in addressing the retention crisis” but are hopeful that the involvement of the Taoiseach’s Department will encourage the urgent reform that is required to save the Defence Forces.
Comdt King said on July 4 that Raco was provided with assurances by Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and Department of Defence officials that work would commence immediately on the required reforms, and that Raco would be kept fully informed.
“Alarmingly, no updates or briefings have been provided to Raco despite several requests,” said Comdt King. “Indeed, Raco has yet to receive a written response to clarification questions on the pay commission recommendations, despite promises to the contrary,.”
Raco and PDForra [which represents enlisted personnel] were recently summoned to two meetings by DPER to discuss the way forward, only to have both of these meetings abruptly cancelled with an hour’s notice, and no reason offered.
Raco is demanding the reinstatement of the supplementary pension for post- 2013 new entrants — 79% of whom feel they do not have a viable long-term career in the Defence Forces.
It also wants the reinstatement of the proven retention measure of fixed-period promotion for highly trained specialists, or specialised instructor allowance for officers involved in onerous and highly demanding induction training.
The PSPC’s report said the Defence Forces is “at a critical juncture” and without immediate and substantial intervention, particularly with regard to pay, allowances, and pension entitlements, is facing major difficulties in fulfilling its duties.
Raco will ballot its members on the PSPC report recommendations on September 24.