I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 14 to 18, inclusive, 23, 25 and 26 together.
Similar to other areas of the public service, the pay of Permanent Defence Force personnel was reduced during the financial crisis.
The recovery in the economy has afforded the opportunity for the Government to begin the restoration of pay to all public servants. Defence Forces pay is continuing to increase in accordance with public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay.
Members of the Permanent Defence Force have received the pay increases due under the Lansdowne Road Agreement. In addition in 2017, following negotiations with PDFORRA, improved pay scales for general service recruits and privates, who joined the Permanent Defence Force post 1 January 2013, were implemented.
The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 provides for increases in pay ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the Agreement. The first increase due from 1 January 2018 has been paid to Permanent Defence Force personnel and a second increase is being applied from 1 October 2018. Further increases in pay are scheduled for 2019 and 2020.
By the end of the current Public Service Pay agreement the pay of all public servants (including members of the Defence Forces), earning under €70,000 per annum, will be restored to pre FEMPI levels. The restoration of the 5% reduction to allowances cut under FEMPI is also scheduled in the agreement.
New entrants to the Defence Forces will also benefit from the measures which were recently announced in relation to amendments to the pay scales for new entrant public servants recruited since January 2011.
The Public Service Pay Commission was established to provide objective advice to Government in relation to Public Service remuneration policy. In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is conducting an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues.
The Department of Defence has provided data as requested by the PSPC for consideration. The Commission's work is on-going. The Department of Defence will continue to engage with the Public Service Pay Commission throughout the process. I will give due consideration to the findings and recommendations that arise from the work of the Commission.
The Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (Croke Park Agreement) for the Defence Sector provided that a review would be undertaken of the current technical grading of appointments and/or classes of appointments for enlisted personnel, including consideration of whether current requirements merit tech pay, are at the appropriate rate of tech pay (including whether a higher or lower rate of tech pay should be paid) or can be made in a more cost effective manner. A review of technician pay in the Defence Forces is ongoing in my Department and PDFORRA will be consulted on developments.
There are a number of outstanding adjudication findings across the public service, including the Defence Forces, which cannot be implemented at this time having regard to the provisions of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009-2015. Outstanding adjudications relating to the Defence Forces include, the Army Ranger Wing Allowance, Technical Pay increase for Cooks, Account Holders Allowance and Rations and Accommodation for recruits and apprentices.
The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, provides for consideration of a process to address any outstanding adjudications, having due regard to the question of their continued validity and cost implications. Discussions in this regard has commenced with the relevant representative association.
In accordance with the Public Service Stability Agreement, 2013-2016, (the Haddington Road Agreement), all sectors across the public service were required to contribute to additional pay and productivity measures. Other sectors delivered these savings through a variety of approaches including additional working time and reduced rates of overtime payments.
The contribution from the Defence sector included a further reduction of 10% on the rate of certain allowances payable to the Defence Forces. This included a 10% reduction in overseas allowances. There are no plans at this stage to revoke the cost savings measures under this agreement and in this regard an estimated cost of restoration of the allowance is not available.
As I previously outlined, the Public Service Pay Commission is considering recruitment and retention issues in the Defence sector and will report in due course. This will inform future actions relating to recruitment and retention.