Leaving the Navy for jobs in Lidl and Aldi 

Leaving the Navy for jobs in Lidl and Aldi 
A passing out parade at the Naval Base, Haulbowline, Co. Cork.Pic; Larry Cummins

NAVAL personnel are leaving the defence forces to take up jobs in discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl.

At least 60 personnel have left the Irish Navy since the start of this year, with a further 12 due to leave in the coming weeks.

While some are leaving because they've reached retirement age, the majority are leaving to pursue better-paid positions in the private sector.

The government has come under increasing pressure to address pay and conditions in the defence forces but the Taoiseach this week refused to fast-track any pay restoration to address the recruitment and retention crisis.

Sources within the Navy have told The Echo that positions in the German discount supermarkets and in pharmaceutical companies are seen as more attractive because of better conditions and pay.

On Tuesday, Public Sector Pay Commission recommendations on pay and conditions in the defence forces are expected to be published by the government. The commission is believed to have recommended improvements to allowances for defence force members.

Mark Keane, president of the representative group, PDFORRA, said the operating strength of the Navy should be 1,048.

The numbers in the navy have fallen significantly in recent years, with wives and partners of members protesting against poor pay on their behalf.

Right across the defence forces, the number of serving personnel has fallen below 9,000.

Mr Keane added: "With the rising economy, people are migrating elsewhere. For example, the gardaí and the prison officers are recruiting."

He said these roles are attractive to people who wish to remain in uniform service but need better pay.

Next week's publication from the Public Sector Pay Commission is against the backdrop of a protest against defence forces pay and conditions in Galway on August 10.

The parade is being organised by the Defence Forces Military Forum and is supported by the Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces.

According to figures from the Department of Defence provided to The Echo under the Freedom of Information Act last October, 171 recruits out of 615 taken in “purchased their discharge” in 2017 from the Defence Forces.

Purchasing their discharge means they left the service of their own accord, and had to pay at least €300 to leave.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has ruled out any increases to pay, pensions or allowances claiming it would not be "fair" to "single out" one group in the public sector above any other.

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