A wide range of different rates of pay for military personnel can be found across the European Union. This reflects the enormous differences in development levels and labour market conditions between member states. The differing rates are also influenced by such matters as the conditions of entry, terms of service, workloads, taskings, superannuation provisions and the taxation and social welfare regimes that apply in the various EU countries. In addition, the nature of national defence organisations themselves is quite varied.
Rates of remuneration and conditions of employment in the Irish public sector are never set by reference to those obtaining in another EU member state. What is much more relevant is a comparison of the relative levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public sector. In this regard, it is my understanding that the level of remuneration in the defence sector has maintained relativity with the levels available in other public sector employments.
The Public Service Benchmarking Body was set up in July 2000 to undertake a fundamental examination of the pay of public service employeesvis-à-vis the private sector. The benchmarking process was a genuine attempt to set pay levels for the Irish public service in the context of the Irish economy — not the economy of any other EU country. Benchmarking is an open, independent and progressive way of tackling the setting of appropriate pay levels and the process provided the Defence Forces' representative associations with an opportunity to present their case in regard to their members' pay levels.
The public service benchmarking body reported in June 2002 and announced increases in pay rates for members of the Defence Forces ranging from 4% to 15%. The first phase of the increases was paid late last year, the second phase will be paid later this month and the third and final phase is due with effect from 1 June 2005. Payment of the second and third phases is dependent, in the case of each sector, organisation and grade, on verification of satisfactory achievement of the provisions set out in the Sustaining Progress agreement, on co-operation with ongoing change, satisfactory implementation of the agenda for modernisation and the maintenance of stable industrial relations and absence of industrial action in respect of any matters covered by the Sustaining Progress agreement.