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Armed Forces to have Trade Unions

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Armed Forces to have Trade Unions

Old 10th Mar 2002, 18:28
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Post Armed Forces to have Trade Unions

Sunday Times:. .. .March 10, 2002. .. .Army forced to allow unions. .James Clark, Defence Correspondent. . . . . . . .SOLDIERS will be allowed to join trade unions for the first time after Ministry of Defence lawyers warned it would be illegal to continue to prevent them from doing so under European human rights law. . .Until now, the army has refused to countenance any kind of soldiers’ federation or union, which senior officers believe would seriously undermine military discipline. . .. .However, lawyers for the MoD say such opposition is no longer sustainable under Article 11 of the 2000 European Convention on Human Rights, which gives everyone the right to belong to a union. . .. .The MoD initially believed it would be exempt under a clause that allows unions to be banned if they jeopardise national security. Lawyers, however, have now advised that although the MoD could still ban strikes, it would run contrary to soldiers’ human rights to block trade unions. . .. .A senior ministry source said: “We think that, while we can avoid strikes and so on, we can’t stop soldiers banding together to form a federation to represent their interests. That’s a case we think we’d lose under the convention.” . .. .There is, however, likely to be an angry backlash from the top brass. One senior officer who commands more than 350 soldiers said: “The problem is that we’re unique. In battle it’s no good if a man decides not to attack something until he’s checked with his shop steward. This is the army, for God’s sake, not British bloody Leyland.” . .. .The MoD has long ignored successive demands — supported by rank-and-file soldiers — for a union. In 1995, the Bett report, an independent review of forces’ manpower and structure, found 66% of servicemen believed a union would be beneficial. More recently, internal army surveys show that as many as 77% now want representation. . .. .A loose, unofficial federation, called Colours, has existed since 1997. It is essentially a secret society, as membership would — until now — result in being sacked from the army. . .. .This is the organisation most likely to press ahead now with a challenge to the MoD. Legal procedure means that it must bring a formal legal case under the terms of the human rights act to change the Queen’s Regulations, which govern the military. . .. .Although any precedent set would apply equally to the RAF and navy, it is the army, with tens of thousands of private soldiers, which would be most affected. . .. .A test case to establish the precedence of the convention on human rights over Queen’s Regulations would also see the MoD fight to try to limit any new military union’s powers. . .. .The organisation or organisations which finally emerge are most likely to mirror the Police Federation. Although far from militant, the federation is well-known for taking issues which affect its members — who do not have the right to strike — direct to ministers or the press. . .. .There are a number of contentious issues facing soldiers, many of which they would wish to take up through a federation. So-called Gulf war syndrome is a major issue, as is the standard of accommodation in the army, as well as disciplinary procedures and the thorny issue of pay. . .. .In the latest issue of Soldier magazine, Corporal D Fox, of the Royal Signals, based in Hampshire, writes: “The Police Federation represents every officer in England and Wales, without membership fees. It provides a means of bringing the officers’ views on welfare and efficiency to the notice of the government. Such an organisation for military personnel would provide a much-needed independent and professional support network.” . .. .A spokesman for the MoD said: “We have to accept that soldiers are free to join whatever union they wish and an entire regiment could all join a single union. Currently, there is not a case pending for the formation of an army union, but the legal advice is that we think that soldiers could form a group under the law — although how closely that would resemble a traditional trade union is open to question. ”Trade union support for the government could haemorrhage because of an “explosive cocktail” of issues, the TUC’s general secretary warned yesterday. John Monks said Labour was leaving space for other mainstream parties to occupy. . .. .If the government gave the appearance of “undue respect” for business, relations with unions would worsen. He said there was now a feeling that Blair’s government was resigned to the decline of manufacturing and to the involvement of the private sector in public services, issues which have infuriated unions.. . . . . . <a href="http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/article/0,,177-231271,00.html" target="_blank">Sunday Times (need to register)</a>
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Old 10th Mar 2002, 23:38
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The 'senior officer' quoted in the above article is the sort of pompous ar**hole who has most to fear from soldiers gaining trade union rights. . .. .Clearly, armed forces personnel would have no recourse to trade union representation in the heat of combat, nor would they be allowed to strike, but there is no excuse for denying them reasonable representation in normal circumstances.
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Old 11th Mar 2002, 00:56
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Some sort of organisation to represent the services might work, but a union? No.

This is the thin end of the wedge.

What next? Not having to obey orders?

Last edited by WE Branch Fanatic; 1st Apr 2002 at 09:36.
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Old 11th Mar 2002, 00:56
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My history is a bit sketcy but the Police Federation is a good vehicle to use as the model for an Armed Forces similar group. It was formed in the early twenties after the Merseyside Police went on strike over a change in pay scales. Paymaster General, lookout (Pay 2000)! The problem we would be faced with is that, unlike the Police, our rank and file are no longer rank and file after ten years or so wheras the police routinely have constables of thirty years service and the experience of being a Policeman to go with it. Who would be our rep? By the time an individual has the time behind him to be able to make a reasoned argument he could very well be one of the people that is being complained against! The only other answer would for it to be civilians employed by the MOD but you could be sure that there would be some senior officer influence involved. I do not think that we need to go to the lengths the Police went to to get their Federation but letters and representations to ministers and the press can only help.
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Old 11th Mar 2002, 01:05
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Excuse if this sounds like a dumb suggestion but why don't we get a system where members of HM forces can make their views known to the Common's Defence Select Commitee without the "system" being involved?
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Old 13th Mar 2002, 10:21
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Having an independant body to represent views and feeling in the military could be a turn up for the books. It would prevent the weak yes men from constantly diluting real feeling when they report up the chain. It would perhaps allow a 2 way flow of information which could be used to propel us all towards a more effective fighting force. . .. .The idea of striking and bartering should not be included on any agenda - such an idea would be ludicrous. I would like to see some kind of forum to which one could openly submit ideas which could be assessed and packaged for presentation to the higher authorities. Such a set up would, perhaps, give those in power more of a heads up on issues of discontent which go on to seriously affect fighting ability when people start leaving in droves.. .. .Those ppruners saying such a set up is a bad idea must have some latent desire to have some kind of representation, for this is exactly what PPRuNe offers albeit in an underground way with no guarantee that a head shed will read the post. We all want representation and we all want our good ideas to be heard. At the moment that is not happening and we all suffer.
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Old 13th Mar 2002, 17:58
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It would be a nice idea to have an independant body looking after our needs but even if such a thing was countenaced who would pay for it? Would any of us here wish to allocate any of our meagre wages to fund something that would almost certainly prove to be toothless, Probably not! The only alternative would be a gov't funded body........... .. .As has been pointed out, IDEALLY, we have a very good system in the military for re dress etc however as each of us knows this system is only as good as the INTEGRITY of those tasked to uphold it. To quote someone elses anology in a tree full of monkeys those at the top looking down see smiling faces while those at the bottom looking up see ar*%holes! I know that I would be wasting my breath taking any serious complaints I may have to my current, or most previous, "exec's" as the likelyhood of MY feelings reaching the "upper atmosphere" rank alongside my chances of becoming pope. Afterall what junior officer is going to risk his chances of advancement by telling his station comander or those even higher something they do not want to hear. . .. .Despite all this, and after 28 years in, I am still smiling but any loyalty I had to this once great outfit has long since dissapeared. . .. .Happy Herc Mate. .. .any spelling mistakes are "df" alcohol induced. . . . <small>[ 13 March 2002, 14:09: Message edited by: Always_broken_in_wilts ]</small>
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Old 13th Mar 2002, 18:16
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anything that improves accountability has got to be an improvement, however, s0d the unions, allow military personnel recourse to the employments right act and consequently employment tribunals. that way we wont have unjustified interference. the only real use the unions would have would be in personnel issues, but lets get buff to sign up to the employments right act and negate the need. this would force innsworth to actually do some man - managing for a change. . .. .my two penneth.
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Old 14th Mar 2002, 05:18
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I joined the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbers Union (EETPU), quite legally, while still wearing my blue suit. Of course they could provide no representation while I remained in the service but in my youth I I was a Boy scout and learned to be prepared. After leaving the Royal Air Force I learned that the union was no more interested in representing me than they were while I was serving. I left the union upon leaving Big Airways of Hatton Cross and have been non-union ever since. The fact is no-one is looking out for your interests but yourself, everyone, union officials included, are looking out for number one. In the airline engineering field at least, the union system works against the interests of engineers in favour of the unskilled majority. Admittedly, Pilots' unions may be different but I don't know first hand. I just stay away from unions that don't represent me, which means all of them... <img border="0" title="" alt="[Frown]" src="frown.gif" /> . .. .**********************************. .Through difficulties to the cinema
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Old 15th Mar 2002, 22:47
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Thumbs up

Don't Navigators already have a Union?
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Old 16th Mar 2002, 00:19
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Oh yeah, baby....and you should see the Branch Meetings!
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Old 1st Apr 2002, 19:43
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Surely the ideal way to go would be for our 'Federation' (if we're ever allowed one) to made up of serving personnel and not outsiders. How many times have we heard about changes, albeit sometimes minor, from the grapevine and never having our opinions heard? Of course, we'd have to have a way of weeding out the yes men or it'd be no different to the system we have now, and therein lies the problem. All I want is a "local shop, for local people...we want no trouble here". (PS. If you don't know Royston Vasey then I'll look a right prat now).
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Old 1st Apr 2002, 19:48
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Ummm,.....Who is Royston Vasey? Does he play for Fulham or some other third division team....
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Old 1st Apr 2002, 21:35
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I suspect that the ban on strikes could be a bit of a red herring; a work-to-rule would have just as much impact. Personally, not in favour of anything that would undermine Service ethos in this way.
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