Air Corps spending thousands on external contractors due to manpower shortages

Air Corps spending thousands on external contractors due to manpower shortages

Four technicians from an EU-based consortium have worked with the Air Corps. Two are currently employed with the Air Corps and are understood to be paid between them around €20,000 per month, which includes accommodation, food, and travel.

Air Corps technicians are in such short supply that outsourcing civilian technicians from a foreign company is costing the taxpayer multiples of the wages paid to their military counterparts.

To date, four technicians from an EU-based consortium have worked with the Air Corps. Two are currently employed with the Air Corps and are understood to be paid between them around €20,000 per month, which includes accommodation, food, and travel.

The average wage for Air Corps technicians is around €40,000 per year, although it can climb to around €60,000 for highly experienced experts.

PDForra, the association which represents Air Corps technicians, says it understands that a re-tender has been issued to recruit further technicians for the Air Corps due to current manpower shortages.

'Well in excess'

PDForra general secretary Gerard Guinan said the amounts quoted in the new tender document are “significant and well in excess” of what is being paid to his members on a monthly basis.

While Mr Guinan didn't state the amounts quoted, the Irish Examiner understands they could be up to €35,000 per month for a pair of contractors.

He said the requirement to continue with these contracts for civilian aircraft technicians is indicative of the failure to increase the rate of technician pay for Air Corps personnel. Many have left for better pay and conditions in the private sector.

“The amount on offer in the tender document is a true reflection of the value of the work being undertaken by our technicians within the Air Corps who continue to leave despite the pandemic,” Mr Guinan said.

He added that PDForra has communicated its belief to the Department of Defence that the failure to increase the rate of pay for Air Corps technicians must be rectified if they are to retain these highly skilled and experienced personnel.

“Undoubtedly, the New Year will bring challenges in terms of retention as the economy gets back on track. Employers are seeking highly trained personnel who possess the qualities held by our members. This is making it increasingly difficult to retain this cohort of personnel within the Defence Forces,” Mr Guinan said.

“Absolutely shocked”

Labour spokesman on defence, Senator Mark Wall, said he was “absolutely shocked” by the amount of money being expended on outside contractors to carry out the work, especially when the Defence Forces is facing a major retention crisis.

It is 1,000 personnel below the minimum level it requires across the Air Corps, Naval Service and the Army.

He said he will be asking the Minister for Defence and the Oireachtas Committee on Defence to examine this and to question if there was more outsourcing happening across the Defence Forces, and if so how much is it costing.

“Why are we paying huge amounts of money to private companies when we can't pay our own people properly? It is simply not good enough,” he said.

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