Defence Force officers to be allowed temporarily join ICTU

The State has allowed the body that represents officers in the Defence Forces to temporarily join the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the High Court has heard
Defence Force officers to be allowed temporarily join ICTU

High court reporters

Officers in the Defence Forces are to be allowed temporarily join the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and have a voice along with rank and file soldiers at the national pay talks.

The State has allowed the body that represents officers in the Defence Forces to temporarily join the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the High Court has heard.

The move follows on a settlement of a High Court case at the end of last month involving PDFORRA which represents rank and file soldiers and which gave soldiers a voice in the talks for the first time ever.

RACO, the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers also wanted to join the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and brought similar High Court proceedings looking for the permission to do so.

Settlement

On Thursday Ms Justice Nuala Butler was informed RACO’s case had been settled following out of court discussions between the parties.

The court could now make an order formally allowing RACO join ICTU as an associate member on a temporary basis.

RACO and its Secretary General Commandant Conor King had brought High Court proceedings against the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General claiming that the refusal to grant consent to join ICTU breached RACO's right to engage in collective bargaining.

It claimed that PDFORRA, which represents the rank and file of the Defence Forces, had been given the State's consent to join ICTU, so it could participate in the pay talks.

It had sought a declaration that the failure to provide the consent allowing RACO join ICTU as an associate member was incompatible with the State's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The terms of the settlement agreement between the parties says the State will give its consent to RACO becoming a temporary associate member of ICTU, so it can be included in forthcoming pay negotiations, until June 30, 2024, or until legislation dealing with this issue has been introduced.

That period may be extended or terminated by the Minister for Defence if there is a breach of the agreement.

In return RACO agreed that its members will not call for or support industrial action in the Defence Forces or any other sector, not ask its members to take part in any form of trade dispute or industrial action.

RACO will not encourage others to contravene their obligations under military law and not engage in protests, media commentary or agitation against government policy.

RACO also agrees that it is essential that officers of the Defence Forces shall be always fully operational and will not move away from its unconditional availability to the government in respect of the security of the State.

The Minister also agreed to expedite legislation in terms of the longer-term facilitation of ICTU association.

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