The association which represents enlisted personnel in the Defence Forces is to take a case on behalf of some of its members who were taken off training and put on duties as part of the battle against Covid-19 - but not given the appropriate pay increase.
Garda trainees who were fast-tracked out of Templemore and put into frontline duties as part of the government's Covid-19 response were given the pay of fully-fledged gardaí.
PDForra is preparing a case under Conciliation and Arbitration on behalf of 180 Two Star-grade privates/seamen second class who were taking off training and given duties on a regular basis.
However, they were not given a pay rise which the association said should have amounted to around €70 per week for each of the personnel.
PDForra general secretary Gerard Guinan said when the Covid-19 crisis hit 152 of the personnel were in training with the Army and 28 with the Naval Service.
He said they should have been given a higher grade because of the work they are now doing and therefore a higher wage.
“The association believes that the advancement in grade could have been facilitated under current Defence Force Regulations. However, despite a military instruction issued on March 31 to the effect that these personnel could be used in frontline duties, military management refused to consider advancing these personnel in grade,” Mr Guinan said.
He said trainee gardaí who were brought into the frontline were totally entitled to the wages of a fully-fledged garda and the same should apply to the 180 military personnel whose case he will take to Conciliation and Arbitration.
“From the perspective of our association, these members could have been called back at a later stage to resume the course or finish off those elements of training that were incomplete at the time of suspension of training. Instead, their representative body is now faced with the prospect of having to pursue claims through our Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme, which can take considerable time to resolve,” Mr Guinan said.
He added that the 180 personnel are on "low" entry-level pay within the Defence Forces.
Mr Guinan said PDForra understands that the personnel have undertaken guard duties, which had the effect of freeing-up more experienced personnel for frontline duties.
“While undertaking some guard duties is part of Two Star Private training, the level involved currently is beyond what would normally be expected. Additionally, some personnel are assisting in the national effort by making facemasks and undertaking sanitising duties in various locations,” he said.
“Needless to say, all of this is not exactly a normal part of training for these personnel. Our association believes that while training may recommence shortly, the message inherent in the failure to advance in grade, is the wrong signal at a time when the Defence Forces face considerable challenges in recruiting and retaining personnel."