PDFORRA, THE ORGANISATION representing soldiers, sailors and aircrew has criticised the government over recommendations to abolish five allowances paid to its members.
The recommendation was announced with the outcome of the government’s review of allowances in the public service.
Speaking at the opening of the organisations annual delegate conference last night, Gerry Rooney, General Secretary of PDFORRA said its members are paid a limited number of allowances as part of a “historic system”, which was essentially designed to block the seeking and payment of overtime and premium payments.
“It is quite remarkable and totally unacceptable that these allowances could now be reviewed or abolished”, he said.
Rooney said the Defence Forces are the only uniformed service not entitled to claim overtime and the allowance system minimised the cost to the state at times when irregular and long hours were the norm for members.
“Allowances paid to members of the Defence Forces are properly part of core pay and should continue to be paid on this basis,” he added. ”We will be taking a very strong line on this issue, as many of our members are now in receipt of up the 20% less income that had been received previously”.
Today the organisation also slammed the decision to downgrade the office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces which it said was “perhaps indicative of the overall attitude to the Defence Forces”.
The Department of Defence now plans to reduce the office, which dealt with 83 cases last year, from a full-time to a part-time post.
The reason given for the downgrade was the increase in complaints resolution at local level but Simon Devereaux, Deputy General Secretary of PDFORRA said the downgrade “gives out the wrong message and increases the possibility of old habits and culture emerging”.
“A reduction in the time that can be dedicated to resolving complaints at local level will probably see a rise in bullying and harassment incidents”, he said. “For some reason we were not consulted on this issue or given any opportunity to raise our understandable concerns about this flawed decision.”