10 July 2017
By Tom Collins
Solidarity TD Mick Barry today said that the time has arrived for a debate on granting trade union rights for members of the Defence Forces.
His comments came in the wake of a report by academics from the University of Limerick covered in today’s Irish Examiner, which finds shocking levels of poverty and poor conditions to be affecting Defence Forces personnel.
The report pinpoints Defence Forces personnel taking second jobs to provide for their families, taking out loans to cover basic living expenses, sleeping on ships to save on rent costs and applying for Family Income Supplement to stave off poverty for their families.
The report highlights the high level of turnover among Defence Forces personnel and the cost to the State of investing in training recruits who grow dissatisfied and quit the service.
Deputy Barry said this morning that the denial of trade union rights for Defence Forces personnel had been the key facilitator of low pay, poor conditions and general exploitation within the forces.
He said that trade union rights for military personnel had been granted in other countries and that the time had arrived for a debate on taking this step now in Irish society.
Deputy Barry proposed the Industrial Relations (Defence Forces) (Amendment) Bill 2017 to the Dail last month and the bill will now go to second stage.
The bill would allow the Defence Forces personnel’s representative group PdFORRA take issues to the Workplace Relations Commission and allow individual members of the Defence Forces take grievances to a Rights Commissioner.
Deputy Barry has also voiced his support for granting Defence Forces personnel the right to strike and has indicated that he will introduce amendments to allow for this if the Bill as currently constituted passes second stage in the Dail.