TA as cheap alternative to Regular Army?

#1
36 Signal Regiment has been providing the comms support for FRESCO in Suffolk (yes - it as happening although there has been little press attention). The brief was for two teams of volunteers, one on shift with the others continuing in their normal jobs but on zero notice to move. The deal was that both would be paid full MTDs for the duration of the operation to compensate for the disruption to their normal lives.

Fast forward six weeks and things are running smoothly. The TA soldiers are doing a great job. Those with employers are mostly taking unpaid leave, the self employed are giving up most of the jobs coming their way. At this point the bean counters start to question why the standby team is being paid so much – after all they aren’t working - and it has been decided that they will only be paid quarter MTDs. As a result both teams have decided that they no longer want to play.

Their reasoning is;

1. The TA (or at least this bit of it) have no wish to be a cheap substitute for regular army soldiers or formal mobilisation. They have no pension rights or employment protection and those with employers are only able to continue due to their goodwill.

2. They can no longer afford to continue. Those who are self employed are generally turning away business and earn less from TA pay than their normal employment, for the unemployed this is their only form of income. The £7 pounds a Signalman gets as a quarter days pay is not anything like adequate compensation for what they loose in lost business while on shift.

At the moment the Regiment’s PSIs are being trained to take over. Do the maths – regular Sgts and SSgts or TA Signalmen – who costs more?
 
#2
Eccles said:
Do the maths – regular Sgts and SSgts or TA Signalmen – who costs more?
The TA Sigs, of course.

You need to look at this from the army's perspective: they will view the PSI's wages as a fixed cost.

msr
 
#3
On 27 July 2005, TA personnel from 36 Signal Regiment were deployed on OP FRESCO to provide communication support to Army, Navy and RAF personnel covering Suffolk fire strikes. (Not only did they support them by providing comms, but trained them in the use of Airwave communications.) Initially they were told that they would be paid full MTD's whilst covering strikes and on standby, many of those individuals invovled re-arranged their family and work commitments, some taking unpaid leave, self employed turning down work offers,in order to cover the strike periods. TA personnel have provided everything that was asked of them and more. They have shown a skilled and professional approach to the job at hand, shown commitment and loyalty, promoted good relations between all three Services, the Police and the Local Authority, all of whom have nothing but praise for them.
And now, after six weeks of providing those vital communications, they have been told that 49 BDE will no longer pay them whilst on standby, only for those days when the strikes are on. For a two hour strike these personnel have worked up to fifteen hours, leaving them NOT so bright eyed and bushy tailed for their civilian jobs the next day, luckily most employers have supported them .

If they wanted cheap labour in the first place they should have opted for a call centre in India. If it works for BT, it should work for 49 BDE.
As a result, those personnel were unable to commit further and as true professionals, will hand over to the next team ( Regular Sgts, SSgts and WO's, whose pay is considerably higher than £30 a day, 49 BDE PLEASE NOTE) a well organised communications support system. Good luck, carry on the good work that the first team started.
A BIG THANK YOU to those personnel and their families involved for the huge sacrifices they have made, both financially and personally.
Morale may be low, but please DON'T hand in your kit yet!!!!
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#5
Gravy Train? Never heard it called that before. We did a calculation a few months back, and found that 8 out of 10 of the TA on a weekend were losing money by training, not gaining it.

The other two were students, by the way.
 
#7
msr said:
Eccles said:
Do the maths – regular Sgts and SSgts or TA Signalmen – who costs more?
The TA Sigs, of course.

You need to look at this from the army's perspective: they will view the PSI's wages as a fixed cost.

msr
Hmm. Picture said PSIs driving to the Arse End of the East through the night every night for six nights a week, then driving back post-strike and post-lunch to do what - begin a full day's work at their TACs? How long will that be considered workable and cost-efficient?

Looking at things positively, this situation is now an opportunity to get the terms and conditions for CCRF/2 Sig Bde support-type work sorted out properly and fairly. Expecting mobilisation attitudes and actions without committing to mobilisation terms and conditions isn't going to work, for individuals, their employers or the units concerned.

What I've seen of Fresco in Suffolk is a top and impressive bunch of professional soldiers happily give up "lives", wives, girlfriends, work, and money in order to carry out the jobs they were trained to do - only to see terms and conditions reduced from pretty miserly to downright unworkable. Gravy train? Knackered Hornby OO gauge maybe; not a living wage, for sure.

It's not like there isn't money around to recognise the professionalism and commitment of those stepping up as requsted to serve for Fresco. The police working on this have been formally advised (I've seen it in letterheaded black and white) not to talk to their military colleagues about police pay rates and Fresco bonuses because the military - the Regs involved that is, mind you - are working for considerably less than they are and in many cases have had their long-awaited leave cancelled and so on. Presumably then they'd be too embarrassed to talk to us TA guys who're being asked to put lives, jobs and sensible drinking habits on hold for at worst 7 quid a day (pre-tax and NI).

It's been genuinely interesting and rewarding to get stuck in and do a useful job for Op Fresco, but in the end also disappointing to discover how little those at the happy end of the food chains of power seem to understand about the complicated hassles of dropping life and work at a moment's notice to jump to the job required, and - what rankles the most perhaps - how little the good work we did was actually appreciated by them. Me, I hope someone somewhere will do the right thing, and the teams will be back at their post asap.
 
#8
sig_kipling said:
Picture said PSIs driving to the Arse End of the East through the night every night for six nights a week, then driving back post-strike and post-lunch to do what - begin a full day's work at their TACs? How long will that be considered workable and cost-efficient?
Because this doesn't cost the army any more - you need to take off your civvy head when you look at this problem from a financial perspective.

msr
 

stab

Old-Salt
#9
The cost is not a financial one.

We can argue who would be paid more by whom, why and what for (and was it worth it) until midnight and won't achieve an answer. The point is that the TA guys stood up to do something at the cost of their private lives, at the cost of their time, potentially at the cost of their jobs, and definitely at the cost of their families. That this was scuppered by a bean counter is no surprise but the issue is about saying thank you which clearly, no-one has. A single thank-you for a job well done by someone who genuinely means it and who understands the sacrifices that the TA make to achieve what they do is worth the difference between regular and TA pay.

Multiply this to Telic mobilisations and see Mr Mackays thread about joining and leaving, and you can see why FAS rebalancing can't come soon enough but may be just the beginning of a whole load of other problems.
 
#10
stab said:
The cost is not a financial one.
Exactly. You are right. But the decision was clearly based on financial considerations alone. For those that make this type of decision, the effect on individual's lives and ongoing military training is utterly irrelevant.

msr has hit the nail on the head, it's cheaper to use regular PSIs and the like. Nuff said!
 
#11
merkator said:
stab said:
The cost is not a financial one.
Exactly. You are right. But the decision was clearly based on financial considerations alone. For those that make this type of decision, the effect on individual's lives and ongoing military training is utterly irrelevant.

msr has hit the nail on the head, it's cheaper to use regular PSIs and the like. Nuff said!
Or you could argue that it only looks at the short-term financial costs (spend over the next month) as opposed to medium- and long-term financial costs (some thrusting Staff type argues that 10% of the PSIs that are f***ed about in such a way will leave because of family pressures, and then works out the resulting costs of training up a replacement for an senior NCO with years of sunk costs in investment technical training).

Or is it only the TA that spent its entire time worrying about retention as well as recruitment. (While I despise the civilian "rebranding" of Personnel departments into "Human Resources", the latest variation of "Human Capital" at least tries to get people to understand that when people go, their knowledge goes with them.)
 
#12
I'm in total agreement with the majority that that it is the cost to personal circumstances and the family that suffer on these operations.
Pay is not the issue, if the TA pay was so much, hey we'd all be doing it 24/7. Thanks for the educated answer from dave, gravey train i think the best and only answer to his comment would be 'ignorance is bliss' i'm sure he'll make a cracking security guard once his term of service is complete,
Bills dont pay them selves and employers dont bend that much, it has to be 1 or the other and some formal paperwork is reqd not just word of mouth, this has thrown the future of such 'call ups' into some doupt with a lot of people, there is a clear requirement for a CCRF type role, but with out the support of the key workers then how will such 'ops' be future proofed?
Lets get it right from the start, iron out the creases and provide a professional service to the govenment and nation as and when required!
 
#13
Gravelbelly said:
Or you could argue that it only looks at the short-term financial costs (spend over the next month) as opposed to medium- and long-term financial costs (some thrusting Staff type argues that 10% of the PSIs that are f***ed about in such a way will leave because of family pressures, and then works out the resulting costs of training up a replacement for an senior NCO with years of sunk costs in investment technical training).
Not so much a short v long term cost issue. It's more a "off my budget, so I don't care!" Whoever's budget is responsible for the Suffolk FRESCO I guarantee is not responsible for the cost of retraining or whatever or whatever... The person making the decision is blind to the cost elsewhere, because it's off his/her books.

And then there's another point to remember. Maybe said PSI's are due for 'manning control'. Pi$$ 'em off enough and they'll happily leave of their own accord before their time is up - and thus save the army a large pension payout!

I've seen that trick played on more than one occasion..

merkator
 
#14
I worked on Op FRESCO in 2002/2003. We were all promised LSSA, because we were all working away from our parent unit locations, and precedent had been set during the Foot & Mouth Crisis. We had it in writing that we were going to get it. I eventually got mine paid in Nov 2004, 16 months after the end of the Op.

I agree fully with the comments above about getting Terms and Conditions of Service sorted out. I would be highly unlikely to volunteer for anything now unless formally mobilised, and my advice to others would also be not to volunteer.

This is another sad example of the goodwill of TA soldiers (and their families and employers) being taken for granted by the powers that be. I think two things need to come out of this:

1) We need to stop being so generous with our time. If you want me in, pay me to come in.

2) We need to lobby the higher end of the food chain to sort out the Terms and Conditions of Service.
 
#15
I have a great deal of sympathy for all of you on this.

What is amazing is that Airwolf, sig kipling, eccles and Mr_T all joined on 11 Sep to air the same grievance with their first posts. That has to be some sort of ARRSE miracle.
 
#16
BARB have you ever thought about a career in the Int Corp.

Lads must be quite emotional about the whole situation if they've taken the time to post on ARRSE.

But I have to say the lads from 36 have my and many others support.

Hope the situation can be solved, Sufflok fire strikes maybe a local dispute, but national strikes may be on the cards in the future, lets not stretch our troops to thin, use the TA more where possible, its what its there for. But please don't abuse these lads commitment and loyalty. Time is precious and these lads have given alot of it.

Ps....Dave your comments about "gravy train" not too bright are you, not sure Airwolf was right about your future in security maybe Tesco trolly boy (with supervision of course).
 
#17
What I find strange is that it isnt going to cost the MoD in the long run - they will be claiming every single little penny back from Mr Prescott at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister who sought military assistance and they in turn will charge Suffolk CC so what difference does it make. The Mil in MACA/P/C all get reimbursed which is why thats the time we all get lots of new laptop computers etc 'cos someone else pays!. If you want the TA to do this type of job then pay them to do it. If you are going to put them on standby then they should be paid, but there is nothing stopping them going in and doing some training whilst they wait - which is incidentally what they are doing!

Interestingly 36 Sig Regt has being doing a UK Op task given to 2 Sig Bde and they are not (quite) yet a 2 Sig Bde unit - not until next year - and training the mil fire fighters on NC equipments eg Airwave! Looks like they are almost ready to take the mantle as an NC Regt!
 
#18
Interestingly 36 Sig Regt has being doing a UK Op task given to 2 Sig Bde and they are not (quite) yet a 2 Sig Bde unit - not until next year - and training the mil fire fighters on NC equipments eg Airwave! Looks like they are almost ready to take the mantle as an NC Regt!
Music to my ears!
 
#19
A little birdie told me that.........Sunray 36 had a little chat with his soliders, told them how it is, how its gona be, how it may change, what he whats, and what they'll get (or not get as the case may be). In reply they informed him what commitment they could give.

Direction and clear honest leadership from above - result - Op Fresco comms provided by TA personnel who want to finish the job they started. Well Done lads and lasses!!

Lessons to be learnt from this for the future:
TA personnel.... get it in black'n'white with an autogragh. Trust is a luxury which will not pay the bills.
Regt (TA and Regs).... your lads are your best piece of equipment you have got (or will ever have) look after them and train'em well and they'll look after the you.
Brigade.... do your homework take the time to look up from the calculator and over the mounds of files. The watchkeepers job isn't the same as the troops on the ground.

As for the future, I think 36 will fit quite nicely into its new roll within the BIG 2's NC plan.
 
#20
Having read all the responses, and from speaking to acquaintances involved with the 36, there are a number of other questions / points that must be aired.

1. Man management. When this sort of op continues to be voluntary how can the TA expect personnel who have full time employment to commit on these terms/to this volume of time out of their day job. One comment I heard was along the lines of if the units role is to provide support for this sort of op on these terms in the future, have I really got a place / can I be a useful member in this unit.

2. Open and accurate communications right from the start. Ensure a accurate message is being spread. Chinese whispers never works. If you get the communications wrong in a comms unit, what hope do us in non comms units have?

3. Consultation. With better consultation with those who are being affected. It is all well and good for one or two people making decisions but every TA person’s situation is different: work and home and geographical distance from TAC's.

4. In my unit we have retention and recruiting problems. If you F@@K your soldiers about like this, how can you expect them to sell the unit or stay. A good customer services adage is: 1 customer complaint gets passed on to 10 people. What damage are experiences like these doing to other units on top of the ones involved? No wonder the TA is flagging.

5. Hurry up and wait is an long used army term, which is excepted. However when the hurry up and wait is stopping soldiers getting back to their families or proper Paid employment it becomes a lot less accepted. Another point I'd like to make having been on mobilised ops is that the f@@k around is just as bad. However when on mobilisation you generally know how long you're away for and you expect it. When you have committed to get back to work and you have no guarantee that you will make it, the f@@k around has far greater reaching consequences.

6. Questions I am yet to find the answer to is:
a. Were any of the personnels' employers approached, if so when and by whom.
b. As this was not a mobilisation, how did the individuals cope with approaching their work about time off/extra time off?
c. Where you given a briefing pack or formal communication to take to work?
d. Was SABRE involved?
Rumours also heard were that this was initially sold as a mobilisation and that some individuals had to make embarrassing climb-downs with their employers when it turned out it was voluntary but the individuals had not volunteered.
Has this got any substance? I'd be interested to hear of any corroboration.
 

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