Cobh Woman’s Message is Clear “Pay our forces a fair wage”

By Seamus Whelehan

Cobh lady protesting in Cork on Friday last.

The Government are facing increasing pressure to deliver on a promise of extra pay for naval personnel on overseas deployment.

The wives and partners of naval crew who served in the Mediterranean under operation Pontus have formed a pressure group to fight for better pay and conditions.

Shelly Cotter from Cobh is just one of a growing number of Navy spouse calling for an overseas hazard pay agreement reached last November to be honoured.

On 11 November 2016, after a lengthy conciliation and arbitration process PDFRORA the representative body for enlisted defence personnel and the Department of Defence agreed an additional hazard pay of €15 per day.

The arrangement means each crew member would receive an additional €1,300 on average per- mission.

The agreement was then sent to the department of Public Expenditure for formal approval. But still remains to be rubberstamped.

Mrs Cotter told the East Cork Journal “pretty much as they say on the steps of the court on the 11 November they agreed to excess money. It is still not paid. It is still not acknowledged and won’t give a reason as to why they won’t pay it.”

The Government Ministers will stand there, roll out a TV programme and go on programmes after it about these heroes of men and women. Pay them what they are owed.”

Shelly whose husband and son received medals for their humanitarian work last Friday 20 January, held a dignified protest following the medal ceremony on Haulbowline Island.

The ceremony was attended by Junior Minister for Defence Paul Keogh and Minister for Housing and Local Government Simon Coveney.

The Cobh woman who has effectively given the Government an ultimatum said “they (the Government) have now decided our men and women have muzzles, as they are under contract, they are not allowed to speak.”

She said while her members were not barred from speaking out, the group would be stepping up their protests over the coming weeks until the government pay out.

Under the overseas peace support allowance, crew are paid a standard rate of €55 per day. The Crews who helped save over 15,000 migrants flee their North Africa homes, had argued that they were entitled to a higher rate as they were operating in a highly volatile situation.

PDFORA contended that the naval crews were entitled to €80 per day, a similar pay scale to that of their army counterparts on peacekeeping duty in the Golan Heights, on the border of war thorn Syria.

Mark Keane PDFORA Vice President who is based in Haulbowline said his members regularly had to intervene in on board factions between migrants, many of whom carried makeshift weapons.