Co Kildare Defence Forces are waiting with anxiety to find out if a leaked document reveals that pay and conditions will not rise favourably for those in low pay, putting some members at risk of losing Family Income Supplement.
This leak comes at a time when the Defence Forces are waiting for announcements on pay and conditions while several are leaving for jobs in the Gardaí, ambulance, fire services and Information Technology positions.
Sarah Walshe, representing the Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces, said: “There was information leaked about the pay commission. The increase is worth €5 in military service allowance a week. This would be an increase of €359 in the year, all before tax. Soldiers are terrified that this increase will push them over the threshold for Family Income Supplement and GP cards, I spoke with a few soldiers who are just so downhearted that they want to leave. They hung on for this pay commission and now they are broken.”
Responding to reports on the leaked document, regarding recommendations for the Defence Forces pay and conditions, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Defence, Jack Chambers said: “If the reports are accurate, a Private with up to three years experience stands to benefit to the tune of €0.96 cent per day on the Military Service Allowance. And that’s even before tax.”
A soldier who does not wish to be named, serving over 20 years in the Defence Forces, said: “I have already lost three friends this week, who have left.”
Last week, a public meeting held at Newbridge Town Hall, revealed that some Defence Force members serving at The Curragh are struggling to meet the costs of paying for their children to sit the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert exams, according to Ms Walshe.
Gerard Guinan of PDFORRA ( Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association), says that as yet the Department of Defence has not given them any indication of when the new pay and conditions will be announced.
Antoinette Buckley with six immediate family members participating in the Army Band both in the past and at present said: “There have been serious issues with retention in the Defence Forces over the past number of years with numbers now well below 9,000. The latest figures from the end of March reveal that there are now just 8,847 personnel – that’s 653 below current agreed strength.”
Recruits are currently receiving €400 per week as a basic salary before tax.
A Private gets a wage of €27,500 before tax, inclusive of military service allowance and this pay remains for three years.
On Year Four, the rate of pay is €32,000 to €33,000, while the top of the salary scale of approximately €37,500 to €38,000 before tax, takes seven years to attain.