More free calls for UK prisoners than Black Watch

#1
from today's Herald. Oddly, the MOD spokesperson forgot this time to mention "board games" as part of the comprehensive welfare package.

(btw well done, Glasgow City Coucil - last paragraph)

CRIMINALS in UK jails are allowed six times more free welfare telephone call time than Black Watch soldiers risking their lives in Iraq, to the anger of troops on the front line.
Prisoners receive telephone cards allowing them to call families and friends for up to two hours a week: troops fighting in Iraq's Sunni Triangle or Afghanistan are entitled to just 20 minutes.
Even then, say soldiers, op-erations and unreliable satellite phones mean troops often miss out on the chance to reassure anxious relatives they are alive and well after publicised mortar, rocket or suicide attacks.
One Black Watch soldier said: "It's a travesty that criminals are given more consideration than soldiers risking life and limb. We are virtual prisoners at Camp Dogwood (the Black Watch base) except for patrols.
"Yet we get a fraction of the welfare time handed out to murderers, rapists and thieves. Where's the justice in that?"
The soldiers are also the only Western force who have to pay income tax while deployed in combat zones, and have to pay full council tax, yet prisoners receive a discount.
Soldiers also point out their hourly pay while on a six-month tour works out at about £3.74 before tax, less than the minimum adult wage for workers over 22 – £4.85 per hour.
One soldier said: "It's no wonder recruiting is so poor in the army. The Ministry of Defence blames the regiments for the shortfall in numbers. The main shortfall is in pay."
An MoD spokesman said it was "ridiculous" to compare the situation of prisoners and soldiers. "Prison inmates are in institutions linked into the infrastructure of the UK. Soldiers in remote bases are not." He said there was a comprehensive welfare package, circumstances permitting, for soldiers on operations, which includes the telephone calls, free e-mail facilities when possible, and postage-free mail.
On the income tax issue, he added: "You cannot compare the pay structure or tax arrangements of one army to that of another. It is highly complex and involves a host of other factors. An element of UK service pay known as the X-factor is built in to compensate for disruption and operational deployment."
Glasgow City Council is to discount the council tax bill of any local soldier serving in Iraq by 50% in a gesture of support.
http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/28404.html
 
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#2
...an MoD spokesman said it was "ridiculous" to compare the situation of prisoners and soldiers. "Prison inmates are in institutions linked into the infrastructure of the UK. Soldiers in remote bases are not." He said there was a comprehensive welfare package, circumstances permitting, for soldiers on operations, which includes the telephone calls, free e-mail facilities when possible, and postage-free mail.
On the income tax issue, he added: "You cannot compare the pay structure or tax arrangements of one army to that of another. It is highly complex and involves a host of other factors. An element of UK service pay known as the X-factor is built in to compensate for disruption and operational deployment."
Glasgow City Council is to discount the council tax bill of any local soldier serving in Iraq by 50% in a gesture of support.
Note the weasel words there: "circumstances permitting". I've still got about ten phone cards left from Telic which I couldn't use because my detachment was too small to qualify for an OWP. On the odd occasions I was back at Basra Airport I was able to get an occasional call in.

But I agree with Hackle - two thumbs up to Glasgow City Council :D
 
#3
An MoD spokesman said it was "ridiculous" to compare the situation of prisoners and soldiers.
Of course it's ridiculous to compare prisoners and soldiers. Prisoners have been convicted of committing crimes serious enough to attract a custodial sentence, whilst soldiers are merely serving their country.

I'll remember that when I pass the posters in the Mess reminding me of TV Licencing's current campaign to impress upon us all that every room in a block or mess requires a separate licence; when I remember that I can't claim discount on council tax because the Mess can't be considered my main home; and when I see how much money the government throws at looking after prisoners' rights whilst prosecuting soldiers.
 
#4
Good post Hackle; one might also point out the the 'free postage' refers to airmail forms and not to packages, that particular boon having been withdrawn many, many months ago. So, if you want to send anything other than thoughts to make someone's life more comfortable (or even to send out the pieces of personal military kit that the system does not provide or that has not been produced "just in time" (let the reader understand) :evil: ) you have to fork out for it yourself.


And the X factor must be joke; if it were withdrawn, just how many (more! 8O) of our soldiers would fall below what our so-called governement considers to be a living wage and so entitled to various "tax credits"?
 
#6
Good spot Hackle.

I had to hand in my phone card in my last place with over 2 and a half hours of calls still on it.....might be because I have no mates though..... ;)
 
#7
Darth_Doctrinus said:
Good spot Hackle.

I had to hand in my phone card in my last place with over 2 and a half hours of calls still on it.....might be because I have no mates though..... ;)
Darth, I also thought that was an excellent post at the top of this thread, until I realised it was from myself. Not sorry to see it revived though: Important stuff.

Perhaps ARRSE could act as brokers in illegally transferring phone credits from those with no mates to those with a high requirement for credits: for example, bigamists.

Interesting though to read Thing's post:

Thing said:
Joe public will get the hint sooner or later, it's about time squaddies had a better voice than their only one of talking with their feet... even the police have a 'federation' when they can't have an Union.
 
#8
Hmmm.....the perennial issue of soldiers and unions! Not somewhere we want to go IMHO, but connect Bickie's excellent posts in the 'At risk' thread, and you can see why some might support the idea. I am against it, as I feel that we have a chain of command that efficiently addresses the majority of soldiers' concerns, but it the large scale stuff that really causes the angst - and this is one of them.

As far as this issue goes, I'm certain that a good answer does exist - in fact, Soldier magazine - and DSPS(A) in particular - briefs about these sorts of things every month. However, the answers are not well briefed to the guys who need them - the blokes with their soles on the streets of Basra, Kabul, and so on. Perhaps a truly efficient 'customer focussed' talking shop is what is required, but managing that and maintaining the C2 staus quo will be somewhat tricky, I feel.
 
#9
Darth_Doctrinus said:
Hmmm.....the perennial issue of soldiers and unions! Not somewhere we want to go IMHO, but connect Bickie's excellent posts in the 'At risk' thread, and you can see why some might support the idea. I am against it, as I feel that we have a chain of command that efficiently addresses the majority of soldiers' concerns, but it the large scale stuff that really causes the angst - and this is one of them.

As far as this issue goes, I'm certain that a good answer does exist - in fact, Soldier magazine - and DSPS(A) in particular - briefs about these sorts of things every month. However, the answers are not well briefed to the guys who need them - the blokes with their soles on the streets of Basra, Kabul, and so on. Perhaps a truly efficient 'customer focussed' talking shop is what is required, but managing that and maintaining the C2 staus quo will be somewhat tricky, I feel.
A truly efficient customer focussed talking shop - like ARRSE? :wink:

The thought of a 'union' as they used to be in UK? I agree, Darth - completely inappropriate to the armed forces, chain of command must be paramount.

I was surprised to find however that the spams seem to get by with the armed forces professional associations they have. Some seem to have a role in lobbying over benefits, terms of service etc without going on strike over it!
 
#10
I suspect that the traditional mistrust with which our Armed Forces are held in by certain politicians would effectively make that a paper tiger in any event, even if it did exist. Or am I being too cynical about the motives of those cherished few in the House?
 
#11
Darth_Doctrinus said:
I suspect that the traditional mistrust with which our Armed Forces are held in by certain politicians would effectively make that a paper tiger in any event, even if it did exist. Or am I being too cynical about the motives of those cherished few in the House?
Just realistic perhaps, Darth!

I see that there is also in the US a pressure group which lobbies to maximise number of veterans in both Houses/either party. No real scope to do that here (even if it was desirable) cos we havent had compulsory military service in this country for so long.

I might apply my errm brain-sized brain to this a bit more.

Maybe we should start thinking about the Armed Forces Bill which I think will be starting its parliamentary journey later this year.
 

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