Low pay sees families of Defence Forces resort to money lenders

Low pay sees families of Defence Forces resort to money lenders
Keelan and Gearoid O'Donovan, Cobh and Joey Kelly, Midleton, attending the Defence Forces wives and partners support group national protest, at the Naval Base, Haulbowline. Picture: David Keane.

THE families of soldiers and sailors claim they have to resort to money lenders and that some are on the family income supplement because of low wages.

Protests were held today at Collins Barracks, the naval base in Haulbowline and other military locations across the country by members of the Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces to highlight concerns they have about their loved ones in the Defence Forces.

One woman whose partner is in the Navy said it came a shock to her to discover that he was earning just €240 per week as a recruit.

She said: “The first 8 months of this journey were tough but since then our life has gotten harder because my partner passed out of his recruitment class and was allocated a ship for the next 2 years of his career. Granted, his wage increased by €100 so he went from earning €240 to €340 after tax. Now, this wage would be acceptable if he wasn’t away for weeks at a time serving his country by patrolling the Irish Sea to protect the fisheries.”

She said that before cuts were introduced in the recession, 24 hour duties on a Monday to Friday were worth €42.83 and weekend/bank holidays were worth €70 after tax. But she claimed such duties are now worth just €20 per 24-hour shift.

The group said that more than 20% of enlisted personnel are in receipt of the Family Income Supplement.

A spokeswoman said: “No person who volunteers to serve their country should be allowed to have wages so poor that they need social welfare support. This is a scandal of epic proportions and we feel the true details are not realised.”

And she said: “Restructuring of Defence Forces from 3 Brigades to 2 Brigades has led to a number of soldiers having to move barracks. This has meant additional and extensive travel costs on families.”

The group said they are speaking out because their loved ones are not entitled to engage in protest, strike or industrial action in relation cuts suffered during the recession.

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