Saturday, 5 January 2008

Forces pay - battle ahead?

Rumour has it that Hash Brown is getting ready to take on the Armed Forces when the Pay Review Board makes its expected recommendation for a significant increase in Forces' pay.
Pay levels for the rank-and-file fall well below those of similar jobs in both the public and private sectors - a soldier fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan takes home little more than £1,000 per month (don't forget that out of this he now has to fork out £1,270 in insurance premiums for working in a high risk area!).
The AFPRB is said to be about to recommend a "significant" increase in the allowance designed to compensate for the dangers and hardships which the troops have to endure: the "x-factor". The current allowance of 13% was last reviewed in 2000, before anything like what the guys are having to experience today in Iraq and Afghanistan. Increasing the x-factor to 20% would add £1,000 to a squaddie's pay - just about enough to cover the extra insurance he's now having to pay.
According to General Dannatt, pay is a "key issue" in getting more recruits into the Army and retaining those already in the ranks. Pay levels, especially for the junior ranks, are not sufficient to compete with less demanding and safer professions and only serve to make servicemen feel undervalued.
This Labour Government has shown scant regard for the welfare of the Armed Forces and has presided over a period in which the State's obligations under the Covenant have been progressively disregarded. These obligations, however, are also part and parcel of the overall employment "package" offered to servicemen. Sub-standard accommodation, poor health provision and insulting compensation tariffs have already shown that the Government is quite prepared to renege on its side of the employment contract.
The AFPRB will be making its recommendations in a couple of weeks time. Should Brown and Co. further short-change the Forces by attempting to water down the recommendations, they will have a battle on their hands - not least at the next elections.