News & Media

New Defence Minister must address ICTU recognition for staff bodies

1 July 2020

Statement by Senator Mark Wall
Spokesperson on Defence, Tourism and Sport
  • No commitment given in Programme for Government, as papers lodged in High Court

Following the lodgement of papers in the High Court by PDFORRA, Labour Senator Mark Wall has said the new Minister for Defence must urgently address the right of representative bodies for our Defence Forces to be allowed affiliate to ICTU and access the industrial relations machinery of the State, as previously recommended by the ESRC

Senator Wall said:

"The new Programme for Government fails to address the right of representative bodies for our Defence Forces to be allowed affiliate to ICTU and access the industrial relations machinery of the State, and due to an extended lack of action, PDFORRA has now lodged papers in the High Court.

“The new Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney must urgently address this issue, and I’m calling on him to act. This is a right granted in many other European countries. This is not about the withdrawal of labour, it’s about giving them a place at the table when pay deals are being negotiated.

"It is important to remember that Garda bodies have been given this 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 now instead of fighting this in the Courts.

"While we welcome that the new Government conceded to the Labour Party call to establish an Commission to in particular 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."