Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Questions (28)

Maureen O'Sullivan


28. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he has prioritised retention of suitable personnel as an essential factor in developing military capabilities in line with section 7.3 of the 2015 White Paper on Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38421/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

A range of factors influence an individual’s decision to stay in the Defence Forces. These include career progression opportunities, pay, personal development opportunities, work – life balance, job stimulation and work environment. There has been significant progress in all of these areas. There are significant opportunities for career progression in the Defence Forces.

Pay is being restored to members of the Defence Forces and other public servants in accordance with public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay.

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 focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay. The increases due to date under the Agreement have been paid to members of the Defence Forces, the most recent being a 1.75% increase on annualised salaries from the 1 September 2019. Further increases in pay are scheduled in 2020.

By the end of the current Public Service Pay agreement the pay scales 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.

As with many other areas of the public service, challenges in the recruitment and retention of personnel have arisen in a buoyant economy, with many personnel or potential personnel, including pilots, air traffic control staff and Naval Service technicians, having scarce and highly marketable skills.

In light of the particular challenges faced by the Defence Sector, the Government tasked the Public Service Pay Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of underlying difficulties in recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces.

The Commission’s Report, which has been accepted by Government in July, contains a broad range of recommendations which will provide immediate benefits to members of the Permanent Defence Force as well as initiatives that can lead to further improvements, these include:

- a 10% increase in Military Service Allowance,

- the restoration to pre-Haddington Road levels of certain specific Defence Forces allowances,

- the return of an incentive scheme to address pilot retention issues in the Air Corps.

These measures will be implemented swiftly on confirmation of acceptance of by the Permanent Defence Force representative associations.

The Report also contains a range of recommendations aimed at improving work-force planning, recruitment and conditions of service. The Government has prepared a detailed implementation plan setting out the timelines and objectives, indicating the commitment to deliver on the Pay Commission’s recommendations. The plan also provides for an examination of core pay in the PDF within the context of the Public Service Stability Agreement and future public sector pay negotiations.

Work on this plan is underway and, under my direction, is being prioritised by civil and military management