Historic agreement allows military personnel to join union body

Rank and file soldiers will for the first time have a say in upcoming national pay talks after a settlement announced at the High Court allows representative body PDforra to have temporary associate member status with the Irish Trades Union Congress ( ICTU).

The temporary status of the ICTU is only for the next wage negotiations until June 30, 2024, or until the relevant amending legislation is passed.

PDforra, which represents 6,500 troops, pledged as part of the settlement not to call or support industrial action in the defense force or any other sector.

It has also agreed that it will not ask its members to strike or engage in any form of trade dispute or industrial action.

It further pledged not to directly or indirectly support strike action of any other trade dispute or industrial action by other organizations, unions or any person or individual.

He also pledged not to refuse to follow a lawful order to cross a picket line or to support other parties, organizations or associations in industrial action in any form.

It is further agreed that he shall not engage in public unrest, protests, lobbying or media commentary including all forms of social media against government policy.

The settlement arose out of a case brought by a Wexford soldier and PDforra against Ireland’s Defense Minister and Attorney General.

In the proceedings, the soldier and PDforra had sought various declarations under the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 regarding the refusal to give the soldier consent to be associated with the ICTU.

He also sought a statement that section 8 of the Industrial Relations Act 1990, considered individually or in conjunction with the restrictions imposed on soldiers under the Defense Amendment Act 1990, which prohibits soldiers from Joining a trade union was unconstitutional.

It was alleged that due to restrictions imposed by the legislation, the soldier had been unable to join a national umbrella group advocating for the rights of employees and that he and the representative body had been denied the right to collectively bargain effectively for better conditions of employment.

As a result, they also claimed that they had been denied access to the Labor Court and the Workplace Relations Commission and to the ordinary dispute resolution mechanisms available to other citizens through their associations. of workers and unions.

PDforra further claimed that he remains excluded from all central wage negotiations in the state, from all efficient industrial machinery in the state, and from all protections afforded to workers under the Industrial Relations Act of 1990. .

Gerard Guinan, secretary general of Pdforra, said that they had campaigned to be allowed to associate with the ICTU and had taken a number of actions through the European institutions and had also taken legal action. in this jurisdiction.

PDForra first sought association with the ICTU in 1994, when Peter Cassells attended their annual conference and advocated for an amendment to the ICTU Constitution to allow association. In the years that followed, successive national leaders of PDForra sought to be granted the association, but were denied this right.

“PDForra has always maintained that the granting of association is a human right and must be justified in the interest of our members. The recent Commission on the Future of the Defense Force recognized that salary negotiations within this jurisdiction were conducted centrally and that our members suffered a form of disadvantage as a result.

“PDforra has no doubt that granting the association to the ICTU will enhance the operational capability of the Defense Forces as we seek to retain and recruit citizens,” Mr. Guinan said.

He said PDForra wanted to acknowledge the contribution made by EUROMIL, the association representing armed forces across Europe, ICTU officials who provided advice along the way, including Ester Lynch who is currently with the European Trade Union Council (ETUC), and countless representatives. other organizations that have helped them.

PDForra chairman Mark Keane said his association looked forward to engaging with ICTU officials in the coming weeks as national wage negotiations begin.

“Our association has no doubt that it will make a positive contribution to trade unionism in the years to come. Many people in society have contributed to the realization of these rights and I must acknowledge the work of journalists who have kept the issue in the public eye and helped to make this day a reality,” said Mr. Keane.

Meanwhile RACO, which represents 1,100 officers, said it was disappointed Defense Minister Simon Coveney had not yet given it the same consent to join the ICTU.

Its secretary general, Commander Conor King, claimed the MoD was seeking to sue RACO for a conditional agreement similar to that signed with PDFORRA. He said that RACO, unlike PDForra, had not taken legal action to try to obtain the ICTU association.

“Therefore, as we have not taken any legal action, RACO hopes and expects to reach without delay an agreement on the associated membership of the ICTU with all reasonable conditions that the Minister of Defense may wish to impose on the association, through the Conciliation and Arbitration System,” said Comdt King.

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