[Sinn Fein]

6th November 2002

Soldiers must have equal rights to other emergency service personnel - Ó Snodaigh

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Defence Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has criticised the Defence Minister Michael Smith's assertion that allowing the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990 to apply to soldiers would be "wholly inappropriate" and that "taking any form of industrial action is irreconcilable with military service".

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"Sinn Fein totally disagrees with this position. Soldiers are workers, and as such have the same rights as others, including the right to strike. The Garda , the fire brigade, and nurses all have the right to strike. We believe that the right to industrial action must be extended to soldiers through an amendment to the Defence (Amendment) Act, 1990 to allow the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990 to apply. 

"This is a very relevant issue right now. The leadership and membership of the Permanent Defence Forces Other Ranks' Representative Association are not happy with the paltry 4% pay increase that the benchmarking report recommended. They are concerned with the timescale for payment, and they are also opposed to the introduction of a variable rate in the Military Service Allowance. I agree that without the right to take industrial action these workers are disadvantaged in their pay negotiations. As workers, soldiers have the right to take industrial action for better conditions of work and pay. Sinn Fein therefore calls on the Minister to reconsider his decision, to recognise this right, and to introduce the required amendments to the law."

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