Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) general secretary Patricia King has said one of her priorities will be to address the fact Defence Forces personnel are amongst the lowest paid of all public servants.
Both Defence Forces representative associations — PDforra for enlisted personnel and the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (Raco) for officers — have been allowed to affiliate with the union umbrella group, which will give them representation at national pay talks for the first time.
PDforra has been seeking Ictu affiliation for its 6,500 members since 1994.
“It has been a long road for them and with a fair bit of turbulence on route,” Ms King said. “Now they have finally been approved [to affiliate by Simon Coveney, the defence minister] and I think it’s a positive thing for them and for Ictu.”
She said she was pleased the issue had finally been resolved, describing it as "quite unique and historic".
PDforra met Ms King and her officials on Wednesday for the first time since being granted affiliation.
“It marked a historic occasion, and we hope this will be a long and fruitful partnership,” PDforra president Mark Keane said.
“We hope we will now be able to highlight even further through Ictu the serious issues affecting our members and their families.”
Raco, which represents approximately 1,100 of the country's military officers, had only recently sought Ictu affiliation, primarily because it was making little headway with the Government on improving its members' pay and conditions.
Vote in favour
The idea of seeking Ictu affiliation was first mooted at its annual conference last year. A vote was later taken that was overwhelmingly in favour of the move.
A Raco spokesman said: “This is a historic move for Defence Forces commissioned officers and we hope it will be a positive step for the pay and working conditions, and ultimately the retention of our members. We are grateful to the minister and his department for their engagement and support in reaching this agreement, which will be followed in time by supporting legislation.”