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10% Pay Rise - 'Because we're worth it'

Bad CO

Sunday Telegraph
"Defence chiefs demand increase of at least 10 per cent on eve of Iraq war"

Defence chiefs are calling for pay increases of at least 10 per cent for the Armed Forces, matching those expected to be awarded to striking firemen, as troops prepare for war with Iraq.

The Telegraph understands that senior military officers have privately indicated to ministers that junior ranks, many earning about £12,000 a year, are severely underpaid compared with the firemen for whom they have covered in recent months.

Pressure is growing for troops to receive pay awards similar to the 11 per cent offered to the firemen, who are expected to see their basic pay rise to at least £24,000 if a deal to end their dispute is agreed.

The military's demands will force the Government to choose between maintaining its increasingly shaky hard line on public sector pay and rejecting the claims of tens of thousands of poorly-paid troops about to risk their lives fighting for their country.

One senior defence official said: "It has not been lost on members of the Armed Forces - from the most junior rank up to the Chief of the Defence Staff - that many of the servicemen and women who stood in for the striking firefighters were already earning significantly less than them. There are servicemen who will fight and possibly die in Iraq who also acted as cover in the fire strike - and all for less than £13,000 a year." Another senior figure warned that another inflation-linked pay rise could add to the recruitment crisis facing the Army, which is 7,000 soldiers short of its desired strength.

"Morale will be undermined if troops get an inflation-linked pay rise of around three per cent while the firemen get upwards of 11 per cent," he said. "This has been a very busy year and 2003 could begin with a war in Iraq. We rely heavily on the professionalism and goodwill of many of our personnel but that can only be stretched so far. If we don't look after our troops they will vote with their feet."

The basic salary for junior ranks under the age of 21 is about £12,000. A fireman with less than five years' experience receives £21,531.

Thousands of troops returning from six-month tours in places such as Bosnia and Kosovo were told that their post-operational leave was postponed while they covered for the firemen. More than 55,000 servicemen and women spent Christmas overseas or on operations in Northern Ireland. About 20,000 are on standby to go to the Gulf, while a further 19,000 are covering for the firemen's strikes, which are due to resume in the New Year.

The level of forces' pay is decided by the Government after recommendations from the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, an independent organisation that provides annual advice to the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary.

Although the Government is under no obligation to accept the recommendation, it has done so since 1998. Ministers can, however, submit their own advice to the review body, encouraging it either to minimise pay awards or to take into account pay rises in other professions.

While no final pay settlement for firemen has been reached, it is expected to be based around the recommendations made in an independent review by Sir George Bain, who advocated an 11 per cent increase staggered over two years in return for far-reaching reforms in working practices. The Fire Brigades Union, which demanded 40 per cent, has dismissed the report and its recommendations as "wholly biased".

An MoD spokesman said last night: "We are not prepared to comment on internal discussions between ministers and the Chiefs of Staff. The review body consults with members of the military in every corner of the world on a variety of different factors before making its recommendations."
Anybody holding their breath out there in ARRSEland?


Not me, they'll probably just take it back off us again some other way. Mind you, the Telegraph is usually pretty well informed. If there is an element of truth to it then at least 10% is more realistic than 40%!


It would be a welcome addition to the recruiting armoury as well but that would probably escape the likes of President Tony and Geoff Whom.  :-/

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