News & Media

PDFORRA must be given access to ICTU

25 May 2020

Statement by Senator Mark Wall
Spokesperson on Defence, Tourism and Sport

Labour Senator Mark Wall has called once again for the representative bodies of our Defence Forces such as PDFORRA to be allowed affiliate to ICTU and access the industrial relations machinery of the State as recommended by the ESRC.

Senator Wall said:

"Due to a lack of action, PDFORRA has now had to lodge a complaint with the European Social Rights Committee (ESRC) because of the longstanding failure of the Government to allow them to affiliate to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).

"It contrasts sharply with the fact that Garda bodies have been given that right since 1st February of this year, providing them with access to the industrial relations machinery of the State. Military organisations are allowed afflialite with unions under the European Social Charter, and in 2018 the ESRC ruled that PDFORRA had that right.

"This has been a long running issue for PDFORRA, and the Labour Party has repeatedly called for it to be addressed in recent years as legislation was brought through the Oireachtas to facilitate members of An Garda Síochána to affiliate with the ICTU.

"This is about ensuring our Defence Forces have some say on their pay, taxation, social welfare and health, and that this should be conducted through ICTU.  Without an ability to highlight in negotiations the issues affecting members of PDFORRA, its effectiveness at negotiation is severely hampered.

"For many years PDFORRA has petitioned various Ministers asking them to grant affiliation status but it has always been rejected. While there is a conciliation and arbitration scheme in existence for members of the permanent defence forces, for a number of reasons this scheme is limited in scope and power. The lack of affiliation is one of the main reasons why pay and conditions have fallen behind and has impacted on the capacity of our Defence Forces.

“PDFORRA believe that the protections enshrined within the European Social Charter should apply to its members and we in the Labour Party support that call. The Government should act to address this, instead of fighting this all the way through the European courts.

"While we welcome that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil both conceded to the Labour party request to establish an independent pay commission to consider the pay and conditions of our Defence Forces and ensure that pay and conditions in the Defence Forces are attractive, they must also act to allow PDFORRA affiliate to ICTU."