RTE.ie - PDFORRA in call over pay and conditions - 05 Oct 22

PDFORRA is the association representing 6,500 enlisted members of the Defence Forces (picture via RollingNews)

The association representing enlisted members of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps has called on the Government to fully implement the findings of the Commission on the Future of the Defences Forces as they relate to pay and conditions.

PDFORRA, which represents 6,500 enlisted members of the Defence Forces, is holding its annual conference in Ballybofey, Co Donegal.

It passed a motion calling on the Government to "frontload the pay structure measures, including the reform of sea-going allowances, the introduction of Long Service Increments for enlisted personnel - as recommended by the Public Service PAY Commission in 2019 and the Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces in 2022".

PDFORRA General Secretary Gerard Guinan said: "Our members have endured years of hardship with report after report and commission after commission reporting on the perilous state of the Defence Forces.

"We have ships that cannot go to sea for want of crews, aircraft that are having to be serviced away from the Air Corps and increasing numbers of personnel who are being mandatorily selected for overseas service due to lack of numbers.

"It's remarkable that despite the relatively positive pronouncements by the commission that we continue to haemorrhage personnel from the Defence Forces at an alarming rate", he said.

Mr Guinan said that PDFORRA is worried "with good cause" at the lack of movement on the issues of pay structures despite their recommendations in the commission's report.

"When matters related to pay structures went before Government there were numerous caveats and stays put in place. These are not the actions of a Government committed to building a credible defence".

The General Secretary said that while the association welcomes the increased budget announcement and the pronouncement of intent to increase numbers in defence by an additional 400, "this will be unattainable in the absence of movement on pay and allowance rates, which have not changed in any considerable manner".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Guinan said the Defence Force has a shortage of personnel and needs around 1,500 new recruits.

Because of that shortage, he said, personnel are "stretched to the limits, they're having to undertake duty rosters faster, having to go to sea on a more regular basis, and it means less family time at home".

He said that the Government is launching a major recruitment campaign but, he said, that from PDFORRA's perspective the absence of appropriate working time allowances and contracts for personnel will inhibit the ability to attract people in the numbers required.

"The Future Defence Forces [report] recommended a restructuring of the payment system and that is welcomed by PDFORRA. However, I think that there are issues to do with allowances and working time. If your pay is set at a rate that you're supposed to be working 40 hours a week, but you're actually working 48, well then, obviously there's a deficiency in the pay."

He said that this year there has been a net loss of over 300 personnel, when you factor in the recruitment levels.

On the independent review commissioned by the Minister of Defence on the treatment of women in the Defence Forces, Mr Guinan said he has not been briefed on the content.

But PDFORRA has contributed to the discussion with the Independent Review Group.

He said the organisation is "eagerly awaiting this report".