The country's largest military representative association has said it does not believe a special Defence Forces pay review body proposed by the Government will provide its members with adequate wage increases.
PDForra, which represents in excess of 6,500 soldiers, sailors and aircrews, maintains its members – who are the lowest paid of all public servants – have a better chance of getting a decent wage increase for their members by being affiliated to the union umbrella body, ICTU.
PDForra is expected to make this assertion when its senior officials address the newly-formed Commission on Defence on February 16.
It's officials will come armed with a recent report in the Guardian newspaper which highlighted how the British military is facing a manpower crisis because its pay review body is subjected to pay caps imposed by the government there.
Nearly three years after the resolution of the Committee of Minister of the @coe on the complaint 112/14 EUROMIL v. Ireland, it is high time to grant full #trade #union rights to #military personnel in #Ireland . #ECSR https://t.co/gJ2bK9vEzd— EUROMIL (@EUROMILeurope) November 24, 2020
PDForra general secretary Gerard Guinan said it has studied findings from the British Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB), which is the equivalent of what is being proposed in Ireland, and saw better options with ICTU representing it at national pay talks.
Recent reports show increased voluntary outflow from the British Armed Forces and high levels of dissatisfaction with pay and conditions amongst enlisted personnel, which is very similar to what has happened in Ireland. In recent years highly-trained personnel are being 'head-hunted' by the private sector for their skills and work-ethic.
Mr Guinan said the establishment of the Irish version of the commission is driving his members into a situation which will not benefit them.
He and his representative officials maintain the pay review body amounts to “the compulsory haranguing of our members into such a mechanism" and would be like "jumping from the frying pan into the fire".
“Accepting the almost compulsory enrolment of members of the Defence Forces into a body would constitute a breach of our members' rights to collective bargaining, which signatories to the European Social Charter, including our own Government, have an obligation to promote under Article 6.2,” Mr Guinan said.
Under Irish military law, PDForra would need government approval for ICTU affiliation, which hasn't been forthcoming. ICTU, on the other hand, has agreed in principle that PDForra can be taken under its wing.
Mr Guinan said:
"The results achieved by members of ICTU at national pay talks over the course of the past number of years speak for themselves.”
In February 2018, the European Social Rights Committee, a European legislative body, found the Government had breached PDForra members' rights by not allowing them union affiliation.
PDForra has lodged papers in the High Court in an attempt to force the government to allow it to affiliate with ICTU. It is as yet unclear when this case will be heard.
The association has also been supported in its battle by EUROMIL, the military representative organisation for 500,000 soldiers, sailors and aircrews in 22 different European countries.
EUROMIL has also called on the Irish Government to give the Defence Forces union affiliation. Many of its member states allow this in their countries.