Wives and partners of Defence Force members holding national protest today

Demonstrations are taking place at army, naval and Air Corps bases around the country

Wives and partners of Defence Force members holding national protest today

File photo. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The campaign for better pay and conditions for members of the Defence Forces is ratcheting up with nationwide protests today.

Soldiers are not allowed to demonstrate, but wives and partners of members are taking part in today's demonstrations.

They will be picketing outside the country's army barracks, naval bases and the Air Corps base, amid claims that many families are living on social welfare top-ups to make ends meet.

Members of the Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces (WPDF) argue: "The enlisted men and women of the Irish Defence Forces are the only public sector workers in the country to be denied the right to industrial action, or access to a labour union with collective bargaining power.

"As a result they have experienced substantial pay cuts in the face of unmanageable rent increases, inadequate medical coverage, lack of consultation in changes to detrimental administrative policies, and no access to labour courts."

The group is calling for immediate wage restoration, universal full-coverage medical care and support for members and their families, and the removal of legal restrictions on trade unionisation.

Today's demonstrations come amid increasing focus on public sector pay.

Pay restoration has been a major focus of this week's teachers' conferences, while the union for executive grades in the civil service - the Public Service Executive Union (PSEU) - will also discuss the a public pay claim at its annual conference in Galway today.