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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 7°C
armed forces

Coveney okays associate membership of ICTU for armed forces ahead of pay talks

Defence Minister Simon Coveney said that the government is aware of the ‘longstanding desire’ of the body to associate with the union

SIMON COVENEY HAS given the go-ahead for PDFORRA (Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association), the association which represents 6,500 enlisted members of the Army, Navy and Air Corps, to become an associate member of ICTU. 

The body has said it welcomes “the historic agreement of the Minister for Defence to … allow PDFORRA the right of association with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on a temporary basis pending the amendment of the Defence Amendment Act 1990″. 

According to the laws contained in the Defence Amendment Act 1990, Raco (the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers) and PDFORRA, which represents rank and file soldiers, aircrew and sailors, cannot be “associated with or affiliated to any trade union or any other body”.

Minister Coveney said that the government is aware of the “longstanding desire” of the body to associate with the union, adding “I am also cognisant of the concerns of military management and I have taken legal advice on the issue.”

Gerard Guinan, current General Secretary of PDFORRA said today in a statement that: “The consent of the Minister to our Association is extremely welcome. PDFORRA has campaigned extensively to be permitted to associate with ICTU and had undertaken a number of actions through the European Institutions and had also initiated court action. Thankfully, this appears unnecessary at this juncture.”

Mark Keane, President of PDFORRA, said today that the group is looking forward to “engaging with officials from ICTU in the coming weeks as pay talks commence. The association has no doubt that it will make a positive contribution to trade unionism in the years to come.

In April, officers from RACO voted overwhelmingly in favour of membership of the ICTU.

“The goal of the Representative Associations of associate membership of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), is for the strict purpose of involvement in central pay negotiations. This has been stated to me by PDFORRA in particular, but also by RACO, on a number of occasions,” said Coveney in a statement today. 

As previously reported by The Journal, the Irish Defence Forces are in a staffing crisis. RACO has said poor pay and conditions are to blame for the crisis and that lack of respect for the armed forces within the Government is a contributing factor.

The group’s General Secretary at the time, Conor King, had said that Raco’s membership had “lost faith” in the pay negotiation process.

“Three successive rounds of pay talks have seen our members marginalised and excluded from fair process as a result of our weakened industrial relations status.

“Members have lost faith in the ability of the parallel process to recognise and compensate for the unique restrictions of Defence Forces service.

“This, coupled with the deliberate weakening of the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme by the official side, has resulted in our members seeking a new approach to pay negotiations,” he said at the time.

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