Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Ceisteanna (31, 32)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

31. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the timeframe for implementation of the recent decision of the European Committee of Social Rights on the collective bargaining rights of Defence Forces personnel. [10465/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

32. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the measures he will take in the wake of the decision by the European Committee of Social Rights on the entitlement of members of the Defence Forces to better collective bargaining and negotiating rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10530/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (11 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Defence)

What steps does the Department intend to take following the decision in February by the European Committee of Social Rights on the granting of collective bargaining rights to members of the Defence Forces? How does the Minister of State intend to implement the decision?

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 32 together.

The European Committee of Social Rights has considered a complaint submitted by EUROMIL, a European umbrella body for military associations, on behalf of PDFORRA, concerning the lack of certain rights for military representative associations in Ireland. In a non-binding ruling the committee concluded that prohibiting military personnel from the right to strike was not in breach of the European Social Charter but that the charter was breached by prohibiting the representative associations from affiliating with a national employee organisation such as the ICTU and in respect of the right to bargain collectively. The Government welcomes the conclusion of the European Committee of Social Rights that the prohibition on the right to strike for members of the Defence Forces is not in violation of the European Social Charter.

It should be noted that the basis for the complaint pre-dates a number of significant Government initiatives. In relation to collective bargaining, the Permanent Defence Force representative associations participated in the negotiations last year on the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 which were held under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission. The PDF representative associations were afforded equal standing to other public sector trade unions and representative associations during the negotiations. Both PDFORRA and the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, RACO, have accepted the terms of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 which provides for increases in pay, ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the agreement, with the focus on the lower paid.

It is critically important that the Defence Forces be fully operational at all times. The taking of any form of industrial action is irreconcilable with military service. The Defence Forces have provided valuable support on many occasions for the civil authorities in maintaining vital services. This was seen most recently in the response to the severe weather event.  In that regard, I record my thanks to members of the Defence F