Thursday, 13 June 2019

Ceisteanna (11, 12)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

11. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the work carried out in his Department and the progress made to increase the level of industrial relations support for serving personnel in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24585/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

12. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the progress being made in affording Defence Force representative organisations affiliation with a union (details supplied) as a means to advance the interests of their members in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24584/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 12 together.

The Defence (Amendment) Act 1990 and Defence Force Regulations S6 provided for the establishment of representative associations for members of the Permanent Defence Force. The associations that have been established are RACO (for commissioned officers) and PDFORRA (for enlisted personnel).

A Scheme of Conciliation and Arbitration for members of the Permanent Defence Force provides a formal mechanism for the Defence Forces representative associations to discuss a range of matters relating to the pay and allowances and conditions of service of their members.

Members of the Permanent Defence Force have accrued significant benefits from the C&A scheme since its introduction both in additional allowances and conditions of employment. In recent months alone, matters concluded through the Defence C&A scheme, have provided for:

- Additional leave in respect of extended Marriage Leave, Bereavement Leave and Paternity Leave.

- Certain exemptions from Health Insurance Lifetime Community Rating.

- Revised arrangements for financial support packages for certain overseas appointments.

In light of the many changes in the industrial relations landscape since the establishment of the C&A scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force, I initiated a fundamental review of the scheme last year. I appointed Mr. Gerard Barry to conduct the review. A copy of Mr. Barry's report is available on the Department of Defence website.

The report of the review contains a number of recommendations aimed at improving the efficiency of the scheme. All the parties to the Scheme are in the process of developing a revised scheme implementing the recommendations in the “Barry” report.

The right to affiliate with ICTU poses complex questions for the Defence Forces from a legal, operational and management perspective. In his report, Mr. Barry recommended that the official side should, with the consent of the Minister, engage in discussions with the ICTU to explore the practicalities of a PDF representative association forming association/affiliation with the ICTU, while giving due consideration to any likely conflict that might arise between such an arrangement and the obligations of military service.

This matter is being progressed and dialogue has commenced between the Department of Defence, military management and ICTU. Defence management (civil and military) have met the Representative Associations and will keep them informed of developments.

Questions Nos. 13 to 15, inclusive, answered orally.