Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Defence Forces

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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121. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence when the vacant position of third-party adjudicator for the Permanent Defence Forces conciliation and arbitration scheme will be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56370/21]

Photo of Cathal BerryCathal Berry (Kildare South, Independent)
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125. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the action he will take regarding the vacant position of adjudicator to the Defence Forces conciliation and arbitration scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56305/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 121 and 125 together.

The Department of Public Expenditure & Reform is responsible for managing the process for the appointment, by Government, of an Adjudicator for all Conciliation and Arbitration (C&A) schemes operating across the public service, including the C&A Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force.

The term of the previous Adjudicator ended on 30 June 2021. I am informed that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is actively engaged in a process to progress the appointment of an Adjudicator for all of the C&A Schemes concerned.

Officials in my Department are in regular contact with officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in seeking to expedite this matter.

The Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations, along with all other relevant stakeholders, will be consulted regarding the appointment of a new adjudicator.

In the interim, the Arbitration Board for the C&A Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force is available for third party determination of matters that cannot be resolved at Conciliation Council.

Photo of Mark WardMark Ward (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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122. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will produce a report for discussion on Defence Forces salaries; and his views on the fact that Defence Forces personnel have to access family income supports. [56301/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Public Service pay policy is determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, having regard to Public Sector Pay Agreements. The most recent public service pay agreement ‘Building Momentum – A New Public Service Agreement 2021 – 2022’ was voted on and has been accepted by members of the Permanent Defence Force Representative Associations, that is RACO and PDFORRA. This agreement includes the following increases:

- A general round increase in annualised basic salary for all public servants of 1% or €500, whichever is greater, which came into effect on 1st October 2021.

- The equivalent of a 1% increase in annualised basic salaries to be used as a Sectoral Bargaining Fund, in accordance with Chapter 2 of the Agreement, on 1st February 2022.

- A general round increase in annualised basic salaries for all public servants of 1% or €500, whichever is greater on, 1stOctober 2022.

The Working Family Payment (WFP), which was formerly the Family Income Supplement, is a weekly tax-free payment available to employees with children. The purpose of this payment is to support families on low income. Eligibility for the payment is based on average weekly family income and family size. On the basis of these criteria there may be members of the Defence Forces who qualify to apply for the WFP.

Salaries in the Defence Forces, and the broader public service, are based on job requirements, as opposed to a person's family circumstances. While I appreciate that some personnel have difficult financial situations, it would be inequitable and unfair to base salaries of individual public sector employees on family size.

The Government remains fully committed to addressing pay and conditions in the Defence Forces and this is reflected in the Programme for Government. In accordance with commitments given in the Programme for Government, an independent Commission on the Defence Forces was established in December 2020. The work of Commission includes examining the evolution of all remuneration systems and structures currently in place in the Defence Forces. The Commission on the Defence Forces is due to complete its work by the end of this year. On completion of the Commissions work, I will consult with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on the establishment of a permanent pay review body for the Defence Forces.

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