British soldiers want a federation to represent them

#1
from today's Sunday Telegraph
British soldiers want a federation to represent them, poll finds

Almost three quarters of British soldiers support the creation of an independent armed forces federation to represent their interests, according to a poll conducted by the Army.

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent

Support for an armed forces federation has been growing for a number of years amid claims that the rank and file have been failed by the "chain of command", although this is the first time that the Army has polled its own members on the issue.

The clear support for an independent body will be a severe blow for Britain's top brass who have long argued that an armed forces federation is unnecessary and could damage military discipline and morale.

The survey was conducted on the Army's own website called "Armynet" which is restricted to use by troops and their families.

Readers were asked: "Should there be an Army Federation to represent the interests of ordinary soldiers?" Of the 3,500 respondents, 51 per cent answered "yes"; 22 per cent thought it was a good idea; 23 per cent were against the proposal and two per cent answered "don't know".

Despite the reluctance of the military to engage with the British Armed Forces Federation - which was formed in 2006 - the very fact that the Army is now polling its members on the subject suggests it may be softening its stance.

The British Armed Forces Federation, which describes itself as "politically non-partisan", has several thousand members but as yet has no formal ties or agreements with the Ministry of Defence.

The organisation has often been described as a military "trade union", leading to fears that members might one day call for strike action, although this is refuted by the federation.

BAFF claims that it would never get involved in operational matters but would lobby for better pay and conditions and would offer its members independent legal advice.

A spokesman for BAFF said: "Theses figures demonstrate real interest in both the Army and the wider military community in an armed forces federation. Virtually every Nato country has an armed forces federation which works with the military rather than against it and they all have "no strike" agreements as part of their constitutions. This would be the same situation with BAFF we want to work with the MoD to improve the lot of soldiers."

In a separate development, it has also emerged that BAFF has launched a campaign for a change in the law to allow a Government-recognised staff association for armed forces personnel. The campaign started last week with a letter to all MPs requesting their support.

Adrian Weale, a member of the BAFF executive council, said: "Many senior officers privately agree that now is the time for change and accept the concept of a representative body, although are reticent publicly. The conduct of the BAFF has been supportive and moderate in our attempts to represent our armed forces thus far and we have tried to be supportive of the chain of command. We did not form our federation to undermine the armed forces but to improve terms and conditions of service for all."
WEB SOURCE
 

Command_doh

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
Cannot have a Union. Doesn't work. And if you say its not a Union, well I disagree. It's the first step towards it, and it's completely incompatible with the nature of the role of the Armed Forces. You cannot dictate terms of when and where you soldier when you are the first line of defence for that nation.

And who exactly are you posting something like that for your first post? Journo? Armynet Admin? Brass? Union agitator?
 
#3
I have to admit absolute befuddlement at the resistance and fear which greets the idea of your founding a BAFF.

I grew up as the son of a US officer; I served myself. There is an Air Force Association, the US Naval Institute, the AUSA (Association of the US Army), and a Marine Corps League. Never once in my entire time growing up or in service myself, had I ever heard any of these organizations referred to even tangentially as "unions". If going on strike was ever spoken of, it was in the mode of absurd humor--US military personnel don't go on strike, and we don't have a union. The fact that the Dutch military does have a union is greeted with some humor and disdain by US military personnel, "What, are they going to go on strike when there's a war?" And yet we have the same service organizations which you're attempting to organize, and everyone seems to fear you'll start "organizing" the squaddies.

I'm sorry, it's just not scanning for me.
 
#4
Command_doh said:
Cannot have a Union. Doesn't work. And if you say its not a Union, well I disagree. It's the first step towards it, and it's completely incompatible with the nature of the role of the Armed Forces. You cannot dictate terms of when and where you soldier when you are the first line of defence for that nation.
I am alas afraid in agreement. What's the point if the organisation has no teeth. The only way it will develop a bite is if it can ballot its members to withold their labour. A slippery slope. It is and will only ever be a lobby group and not a very influential one at that. The police service have a 'Federation' and look how effective that was over the recent pay 'dispute'.

In my view, what BAFF fail to mention is that if it ever gets of the ground, is that they will expect its members to fund it. I.E. you. They may offer things like free legal advice, when you have had too much beer, but to my mind the whole idea is severely flawed. It's full of ex serving officers, who I am sure have good interests at heart, but I guarantee you that if it gets off the ground they won't be doing it for free. A good idea in principle, but like most good ideas, it needs further thought. That's my twopence anyway.
 
#5
Yank_Lurker said:
I have to admit absolute befuddlement at the resistance and fear which greets the idea of your founding a BAFF.

I grew up as the son of a US officer; I served myself. There is an Air Force Association, the US Naval Institute, the AUSA (Association of the US Army), and a Marine Corps League. Never once in my entire time growing up or in service myself, had I ever heard any of these organizations referred to even tangentially as "unions". If going on strike was ever spoken of, it was in the mode of absurd humor--US military personnel don't go on strike, and we don't have a union. The fact that the Dutch military does have a union is greeted with some humor and disdain by US military personnel, "What, are they going to go on strike when there's a war?" And yet we have the same service organizations which you're attempting to organize, and everyone seems to fear you'll start "organizing" the squaddies.

I'm sorry, it's just not scanning for me.
Trigger! This campaign is about a professional staff association like the Association of the United States Army - not a union. Indeed the Dutch have military associations which call themselves unions, and even they don't go on strike, so why should a British professional association more closely modelled on the AUSA go on strike?

www.baff.org.uk
 
#6
baffman said:
Yank_Lurker said:
I have to admit absolute befuddlement at the resistance and fear which greets the idea of your founding a BAFF.

I grew up as the son of a US officer; I served myself. There is an Air Force Association, the US Naval Institute, the AUSA (Association of the US Army), and a Marine Corps League. Never once in my entire time growing up or in service myself, had I ever heard any of these organizations referred to even tangentially as "unions". If going on strike was ever spoken of, it was in the mode of absurd humor--US military personnel don't go on strike, and we don't have a union. The fact that the Dutch military does have a union is greeted with some humor and disdain by US military personnel, "What, are they going to go on strike when there's a war?" And yet we have the same service organizations which you're attempting to organize, and everyone seems to fear you'll start "organizing" the squaddies.

I'm sorry, it's just not scanning for me.
Trigger! This campaign is about a professional staff association like the Association of the United States Army - not a union. Indeed the Dutch have military associations which call themselves unions, and even they don't go on strike, so why should a British professional association more closely modelled on the AUSA go on strike?

www.baff.org.uk
How you call Y_L trigger is beyond me. Try reading their post again.
 
#8
Command_doh said:
Baffman,

You want to spend a bit more money on your website before you come looking for recruits here mate. Not quite up there with the other 'Unions' sites is it? Looks rather amateurish.
Thanks. Yup, that should clinch the debate about representation!

The point of the link was the information there about the status of a professional staff association, whether it would be a union and what other models had been looked at, like the Association of the United States Army. In order to be helpful, we will quote it here:

www.baff.org.uk said:
A "specifically British solution for the British armed forces", BAFF did not take any single organisation for a template, but its Steering Group researched or visited a wide range of organisations representing operational public service staff.

These included representative military associations in Australia, the USA, and Ireland; the various Police Federations in the UK; and the Government Communications Group of the PCS Union, which includes GCHQ. BAFF itself is not a trade union.
Command_doh said:
the other 'Unions'
Been done, mate. Not a union. With or without quotes.
 
#9
If the enemy has a union too, you could get ACAS to sort out who wins the battle. Happy Days
 
#10
Although the Police Federation doesn't have the sort of power that Trades Unions do, it does have it's functions established in law (see the report by Lord Edmund Davies).

One of the functions given to the Police Federation is the efficiency of the service. This has been deemed to mean that the Federation can challenge operational matters where such may impinge upon the conditions of service etc of the Federated Ranks.

An Army Federation wouldn't need the same to be effective.

One of the ways in which the Police Federation can gain leverage is that public opinion can be channelled through them and public support for such institutions is strong. An Army Federation would possibly have even more weight in this respect.

What a Federation would achieve is a platform. At present it's either ex-servicemen and women who can speak in public, it's forums such as this or it's the 'official' side's views.

A Federation, sanctioned by the powers, would redress this.

The biggest problem and one that's difficult to avoid, is that the chosen Federation officers will soon become out of touch, have to rely upon a network of local representatives, become a talking-shop and will be seen by some as a gravy-train.

I speak as an ex-soldier, ex-copper and ex-Police Federation rep.
 
#11
If we were to have some sort of parallel to the Police Federation, I would rather it was run by that twat who was i/c the firemen's union than the self-serving self-aggrandising self-important nomarks who inhabit BAFF.
 

Sixty

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#12
Command_doh said:
Baffman,

You want to spend a bit more money on your website before you come looking for recruits here mate. Not quite up there with the other 'Unions' sites is it? Looks rather amateurish.
And you may wish to look around this site longer before gobbing off. Most, if not all, of the BAFF groundwork was proposed and discussed by members of Arrse (indeed Good CO set up a hidden board for the people who were formulating the initial constitution and proposed senior members of the federation).

Edit to add the monster '10 point plan' link

Link
 
#13
Now, more than ever, there is a need for this Federation. The Chain of Command is subject to the Government and therefore it is at the mercy of a dishonest, lying, traitorous, rotten regime. An independent federation is able to speak up and out for each and every serviceman and woman no matter what their rank, without fear or favour, and can actually in effect become the Chain of Command's greatest ally if it has eyes to see that. The government must be very afraid of BAFF becoming a force for good because the government likes the manner in which is has been historically able to effectively intimidate and silence people at a stroke within the CofC. BAFF can work for the good of ALL servicemen and women at all levels without having to pick their battles very carefully to avoid limiting their own career progression. The government's poison pen 'yes' men will no doubt be scribbling all over this thread with their negative input- just ignore it. The time for a Federation is now.
 
#14
Chain of Command is where it lies. Once the problems go outside of that route, you may as well pack up and pi*s off home.

The problem lays with the useless and largely incompetant MP's, that at the end of the day, tell us what to do. We need more MP's with a military background.
 
#15
So, out of 95,000 possible serving soldiers, just 3,500 were interested enough to vote, and from there, it can be deduced that we all want a Federation.

I don't; I want the CoC, the MoD and Ministers to represent our interests, instead of only thinking about their own.

Doh!

So, that's another vote for a Federation, then.

Litotes
 
#16
There is already an organisation which represents the interests of the Service and ex-Service Community - The Royal British Legion (TRBL). Look at what it has achieved already, not least most recently with its Broken Covenant Campaign. It also provides access to independent legal advice to all serving and ex-serving personnel, including those who are not members of TRBL.
 
#17
I'm pretty sure this has all been covered very adequately elsewhere on the board...

However, as I think Litotes may be hinting, if the Right People aren't doing the Right Things, maybe you should look elsewhere for action. Unfortunately, I remember when at HQ Northag, if the Dutch LCpl stated that his working day was over, it was emphatically over, and he had a piece of paper from his union/federation/whatever which proved it. I don't think that sort of nonsense is BAFF's intention at all, but it might be seen as a wedge-thin end situation.
 
#18
An independent body crawling all over the military can only be an encumbrance that is not needed. The military must be free to carry out its duties without having observers round every corner.
Regiments and battalions are families where the senior officers will fight tooth and nail to get their soldiers the best deal possible. Who is likely to fight harder for the proper kit for his troops, the CO and QM or BAFF? The CO is the one whom has to write to the families of those killed, he knows them personally and may have served with them for many years.
Military justice has traditionally, been less about justice and more about the greater good. I have seen COs give 28 days to soldiers on fairly dubious charges because it was felt by those who knew the soldier best that a short sharp shock would turn him from a disaster into a reasonable soldier. Equally I have seen soldiers up on fairly serious charges which would stick in any court thrown out by a CO for lack of evidence because he doesn't want an hithertoo excellent soldier to lose a good career through a stupid error of judgement. An example that immediately springs to mind is an RQMS who came across a group of chavs beating up a downs syndrome lad. Said RQ flattened the lot of them but got arrested by MoD plod in the course, 6 chavs and 2 MoD plod gave evidence. CO threw said case out for lack of reliable evidence. Nice one Sir!
There is a system of redress of grievence in place in the Army and in my experience it is used rarely because if someone has a case then his section sergeant or immediate superior will take up that case on his behalf and fight for justice for a good man.
The only people I can really see who would benefit from BAFF or the like would be the spineless, feckless ingrates who occasionally manage to make it through the main gate but rarely make it out of basic training because they are knobs and of no use to man nor beast.
Officers and NCOs are trained to look after the men under them. Let's not have independent bodies bearing down on them because the right decision is not always in the best interests of the individual or the Army.
 
#19
Markintime said:
...I have seen COs give 28 days to soldiers on fairly dubious charges because it was felt by those who knew the soldier best that a short sharp shock would turn him from a disaster into a reasonable soldier.
really

Markintime said:
...There is a system of redress of grievence in place in the Army and in my experience it is used rarely
really

"not in my day" then. :D
 
#20
baffman said:
Markintime said:
...I have seen COs give 28 days to soldiers on fairly dubious charges because it was felt by those who knew the soldier best that a short sharp shock would turn him from a disaster into a reasonable soldier.
really

Markintime said:
...There is a system of redress of grievence in place in the Army and in my experience it is used rarely
really

"not in my day" then. :D
Either that, or you have limited experience.
 

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