Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Ceisteanna (38)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

38. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to address the issues raised by the Kemmy report; and the timeframe for implementing same. [12954/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Defence Forces Climate Survey was commissioned on foot of a recommendation contained in the third and most recent Report of the Independent Monitoring Group (IMG) which was established to oversee the implementation of recommendations relating to harassment, bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment within the Defence Forces.

Follow up work to the initial findings in the Survey was conducted by the University of Limerick researchers via use of focus groups. The resulting report was published in July 2017 and further explored the issues raised in the original survey. The comments quoted therein cover a wide range of issues relating to human resources management. These include pay and conditions, vacancies, recruitment and retention, promotion systems, performance management, leadership, culture, morale, stress and work-life balance.

The report pre-dated the significant improvements in pay that have taken place in the intervening period. Successful negotiations with the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations have provided for pay increases to Permanent Defence Force personnel under the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The finalisation of negotiations under the agreement allowed for the commencement of the process for the implementation of pay increases and arrears, which have now been applied to the Permanent Defence Force.  An increase of 2.5% from 1 January 2016, for annualised salaries up to €24,000 and 1% for annualised salaries between €24,001 and €31,000 was paid in July 2017. An increase of €1,000 from 1 April 2017, on annualised salaries up to €65,000 per annum was also paid in July 2017.

In addition, improved payscales for general service recruits and privates who joined the Permanent Defence Force post 1 January 2013, were backdated to 1 July 2016 and paid in August 2017.

The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, contains proposals for further pay increases over the period of the agreement ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% with the benefits to weighted towards those on lower pay. The agreement also provides for the restoration of the 5% reduction in allowances under FEMPI by the end of the Agreement. By the end of the agreement, the payscales for all public servants earning up to €70,000 will be restored to the levels that existed prior to the FEMPI legislation. The first increment under this agreement of 1% in annualised salaries due from 1 January 2018 has been paid to members of the PDF.

There is ongoing recruitment to the Defence Forces and a range of initiatives are being developed including commissioning from the ranks, criteria for the re-entry of former Permanent Defence Force personnel with specific skills and consideration of increased use of direct entry for specialist posts. The Public Service Pay Commission will also be examining recruitment and retention issues in its next tranche of work.

There is an ongoing programme of HR development within the Defence Organisation. As well as pay and recruitment, other issues highlighted in the Survey are being addressed. A number of initiatives including a review of the criteria governing contracts of enlisted personnel and a comprehensive skills gap analysis across the Defence Forces have been announced. I also initiated a review of the C&A scheme which is underway. These directly address issues raised in the Survey.

In tandem with these actions the Department is also engaged in planning on a longer term basis. Many of the recommendations arising from the Climate Survey have been captured in and will be progressed by White Paper projects.  Projects arising from the White Paper on Defence around topics such as medium term manpower planning and encouraging as wide a pool as possible for recruitment are already underway.

With regard to other issues relating to human resource management highlighted in the Climate Survey, there are extensive support systems currently in place for members of the Defence Forces. The Personnel Support Service is available to provide information, assistance and counselling on a range of matters including interpersonal problems and stress.

Questions Nos. 39 to 41, inclusive, answered orally.
Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 39.