Defence force families protest dreadful pay and conditions

Since the Banking Crash of 2009 there has been a serious lack of investment in the Irish Permanent Defence Forces.

Socialist Worker

Defence force families protest dreadful pay and conditions

Wayne Boston

The equipment is as antiquated as a shabby sofa, and shabbier still are the pay and conditions that service personnel have to endure.
This is especially true in the investment in its servicemen and women who, since 2009 have seen cuts to pay, allowances and even pensions.
A qualified 3 star private can expect to come out with around €370 per week, rising to €524 after nine years service.
There is no overtime.  Weekends are treated like any other day, except personnel earn around €20 for a 24 hour duty.  Less then €1 an hour.
Not Fair
As a result, there has been a marked increase in the number or enlisted men and women relying on Family Income Supplement to make ends meet.
This is simply not good enough, nor fair, to our  rank and file soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women, who risk their lives whether it’s as an aid to the civil powers in times of floods and other disasters, or off the coast of southern Europe rescuing refugees from North Africa.
As reported in  The Examiner in 2015, many of the Naval personnel serving in the humanitarian missions in the Mediterranean Sea  work, “…20 hours a day non-stop.
And a number are paid so poorly, they earn just €100 more a week than some dole recipients.”
Conditions are worse than imagined with stories now doing the rounds of soldiers having to barter and exchange for basic items such as boots, socks and other items of essential kit.
Quite often this kit is required for Guards of Honour for some junior minister, for which soldiers have to get up at ridiculous hours to get Number One uniforms ready .
Worse still is the depressions and memory loss as a result of taking mefloquine, branded as Larium, the Army’s prescribed anti-Malaria drug.  Many of these affected soldiers and sailors feel unable to report these side affects for fear or being medically discharged.
This is also true for soldiers reporting with injuries.  In no other job would you have a proven work related injury and be fired for the same.
The Army, Navy and Air Corps do not have, nor allow unions.
However, enlisted men are represented by the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association, usually called PDFORRA, while commissioned officers are represented by the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, or RACO.
These organisations are like dogs with no teeth.  Unable to effect change, these groups are barred under legislation from engaging in protest or strike action.
We are for the right for soldiers themselves to protest against bad pay and conditions.
These representative bodies should be given the same legal status as other unions before morale deteriorates further.
The truth is the government want the soldiers to follow orders without question and accept bad pay and conditions without kicking up a fuss.
This is why the ‘Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces’  have had to come onto the streets: to be the voice of the gagged men and women of the armed services.
And this is why People Before Profit support  these wives and partners and will use our platform in the Dáil to voice soldiers’ and sailors’  concerns and demands.

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