mass fall out?

TA faces mass fall-out in Gulf pay bungle
By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent and Neil Tweedie
(Filed: 29/05/2003)

Hundreds of reservists returning from Iraq are set to leave the Territorial Army amid widespread concern over the way they are being used and the Ministry of Defence's failure to pay them properly.

Some had to take out expensive loans to fund mortgages because the MoD had not been paying them enough.

Many TA soldiers were not paid at all in the first weeks of their mobilisation. Others received only a basic salary with no allowances to make up the loss of earnings.

One TA officer who works in the City and deployed to the Gulf with his reservist unit was not paid at all for the first two months and was then under-paid. "The situation was appalling," he said. "We were at war. We should not have had to worry about our pay.

"But at least four of us had to get on the satellite phone to arrange finance to cover loans and mortgages. They have no idea of the worry and anxiety they caused."

The problems with pay have increased concerns felt by many reservists over the way they are being used as "temps" to cover gaps left by the increasing overstretch of Britain's Armed Forces.

During the Cold War, compulsory mobilisation of the reserves could take place only if there was a direct military threat to Britain.

But defence cuts after the Cold War led to a decision to rely increasingly on reservists for a large number of specialist troops. They can now be mobilised to go abroad whether or not there is a threat to Britain's security.

Reservists serving in Iraq have found they have been kept in theatre longer than their regular counterparts and, despite their specialist skills, were often being used as guards and drivers.

The TA's anger has not been helped by the fact that the MoD has held on to £40 million in annual retention bounties which should have been paid in March.

The delays are being blamed on computer problems. One source at the Army Personnel Office in Glasgow said some payments would go out this week but the problems were likely to continue.

At the end of the Cold War the Army had 156,000 men. Its establishment is now 107,000 and it is 5,000 men short. At the same time, the number of overseas deployments have shot up. Both regulars and reservists have been deployed in conflicts in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The military has also found itself providing substantial resources during both the foot and mouth crisis and the firemen's strike. The result: more reserves have been called up and they too have been affected by overstretch.

Although increased deployments suit many, particularly those who are unmarried and work as freelances, those in full-time employment are under growing pressure from employers. Employers are obliged to re-employ reservists when they return from deployments abroad but they do not have to keep their specific jobs open for them.

That will not only damage their career prospects but also leaves open the possibility that their employer might eventually use a different excuse to get rid of them.

The Army, which has had to call out the largest number of reservists, has also been less focused and efficient than the other services which used so-called "intelligent mobilisation" to call up those known to be keen to participate.

A senior TA officer attached to the MoD said the problem was that the war in Iraq was the largest mobilisation since Suez. There was no "collective memory" of what a major reserve mobilisation meant or commitments imposed.

The Strategic Defence Review mapped out a new role for the TA, which placed its members ahead of the regular reserve - former regular soldiers liable to recall - in the list of those likely to be used in a conflict.

The TA was more likely to be called up because its personnel were up to date in their training and formed into units. Those chosen were warned their period of service might be extended, with no formal maximum time limit.

Generally, the call-up had gone well, the senior officer said. Planners had expected to call up 1.6 reservists for every one needed, because of changes in address, lack of fitness and other factors. A total of 8,000 had been called up with only 2,400 failing to respond, a success ratio of 1.3 to one.

It was too early to say if a large number of resignations would follow the deployment to Iraq or to give numbers of TA personnel who had lost their jobs through being away for so long, the officer said.

So far, only five soldiers had encountered problems and employers were being reminded of their obligation to re-employ reservists under the Reserve Forces Safeguard of Employment Act 1985.

"We won't really know until their employers say, 'Don't bother to turn up for work because we've got someone else'," the source said. "We do expect a number of people will leave."

And you can add to that fallout, those who square their life away (hand over rented accommodation, tell all their mates that they're off, kiss goodbye to the Mrs and kids etc) and then get sent back from Chilwell because of the ridiculous medical.... :mad:

I've got two members of my troop off next month and their biggest worry is the medical.

The reality is that if employers start looking unfavourably on the TA then we are all stuffed.

...and what redress do we have, when our employer says "Sorry, I had to let your job go"

Are we given a few quid by the MOD to tide us over, or are we offered "Legal Aid"?

Incidentally, to qualify for legal aid, don't you have to earn under a certain figure?

Bring in 3 month tours

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