High Court settlement paves way for soldiers to join national pay talks

The temporary associate membership for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) is solely for the forthcoming pay negotiations up to June 30th, 2024, or until relevant amending legislation is passed
High Court settlement paves way for soldiers to join national pay talks

High Court reporters

Rank and file soldiers will for the first time have a voice at upcoming national pay talks after a settlement announced in the High Court.

The settlement allows for representative body PDFORRA to have temporary associate membership of the union umbrella body, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu).

The temporary associate membership is solely for the forthcoming pay negotiations up to June 30th, 2024, or when relevant amending legislation is passed.

As part of the settle, PDFORRA, which represents 6,500 soldiers, has undertaken that it will not call for, or support, industrial action in the Defence Forces or any other sector.

It has also agreed it will not request its members to go on strike, or engage in any form of trade dispute or industrial action.

It has further undertaken it will not support, directly or indirectly, strike action on any other trade dispute or any industrial action by other organisations, trade unions or any persons or individuals.

It has also agreed it will not refuse to follow a lawful order to pass a picket line, nor will it not support other parties, organisations or associations in the context of industrial action of any form whatsoever.

It is further agreed it should not engage in public agitation, protests, lobbying or media commentary, including on all forms of social media, against Government policy.

Significant

The settlement has arisen in a case brought by a Wexford soldier and PDFORRA against the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General.

Noting the settlement of the proceedings and the undertaking by PDFORRA, Mr Justice Conor Dignam said it was clear a very significant amount of work has been done to reach this point of agreement.

In the proceedings, the soldier and PDFORRA had sought various declarations under the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 over the refusal to provide consent to the soldier to be associated with Ictu.

It also sought a declaration that Section 8 of the Industrial Relations Act 1990, considered individually or in conjunction with the restrictions imposed on soldiers under the Defence Amendment Act 1990 which prohibits soldiers from joining a trade union, was repugnant to the Constitution.

It was claimed that as a result of restrictions in the legislation the soldier had been unable to join any national umbrella group advocating for employee rights and that he and the representative body had been denied the right to effectively collectively bargain for better terms and conditions of employment.

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

PDFORRA further claimed it remained excluded from all central pay negotiations in the State, all effective industrial machinery in the State and all of the protections afforded to workers under the Industrial Relations Act 1990.

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