Armed forces rank and file demand union

Amidst equipment shortages and failures, the rash of court martials in Iraq, misgivings over new deployments of 4000 troops to Afghanistan in the spring, bullying, and the fall in recruitment and retention of soldiers, rank-and-file members of the Armed Forces have started calling for a union.

As well as the discontent within regular soldiers, part-timers in the Territorial Army, due to differences in contract, have often stayed in Iraq longer than their full-time counterparts due to shortages of personnel. Many have been on active duty for more than 6 months, and in some cases been sacked by their employers upon their return, with only £1000 fine the maximum penalty for employers. This pointes widespread discontent across both forces, which has recently been expressed in terms of calls for unionisation.

However, both industrial action and any form of political activity are illegal in the regular armed forces and the TA. It appears the call has quickly been taken on by campaigners keen to downplay any moves towards actual unionisation - calling the proposed organisation the "British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF)", and saying it would be similar to the Police Federation.

libcom.org finds it unlikely that the pressure for a union is limited to simply a professional association - which would cause no problems for the MOD or top brass at all. In fact the campaign for the BAFF may well be used to further marginalise any rank-and-file who intend to organise themselves independently.

Unfortunately whether such moves exist is mainly supposition at this point. If you or someone you know is involved in organising within the British armed forces, we'd like to hear from you.

RELATED HISTORY:
GI Resistance in the Vietnam War
http://www.libcom.org/history/articles/vietnam-gi-resistance/index.php

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Posted By

libcom
Jan 29 2006 13:33

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Comments

Spikymike
Jan 15 2014 11:26

Not a new posting though is it? Presumably posted originally for information only but doesn't appear to have attracted any discussion at the time as to the implications of this or any follow up regarding what has happened since 2006. At the end of the day any rumbling in the ranks of the army is to be welcomed but the TA is voluntary is it not? and even those libcom people keen on unionisation perse would presumably baulk at promoting TU's in this repressive arm of the state (unlike the so-called Socialist Party (ex-Militant). Reference to comparisons with the Police Federation or even the Prison Officers Union seem justified surely?