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PCS: Savage defence cuts will damage frontline services

Frontline defence will be severely compromised if as reported the government cuts another 10,000 jobs from the Ministry of Defence, the Public and Commercial Services union warns.

While defence secretary Bob Ainsworth was short on detail in his statement, the announcement that the MoD wants to close RAF Cottesmore and axe even more civilian jobs will come as a major shock to staff who provide vital support to troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The union was not consulted on the plans which were leaked to the media rather than being discussed with those who will be affected.

News that Margaret Thatcher's 'privatisation guru' Gerry Grimstone will lead a review of jobs in the MoD next year is also a serious concern, the union says.

In discussion with the employer, PCS has put forward a number of suggestions which would save money without damaging essential support to the frontline, including: a reduction in the number of non-deployable military personnel; more civilians taking over non-military roles currently performed by military staff; and tackling the billions of pounds wasted on the equipment programme and failed privatisation.

Instead, it appears the MoD is seeking arbitrary cuts and base closures, meaning its staff will pay with their jobs for a financial crisis they did not create.

Since April 2004, 24,000 civilian jobs have been cut in the MoD. Today's announcement again fails to explain who will do the work if more are axed.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This will do nothing to improve the appallingly-low levels of morale among staff in the already overstretched MoD. It will put lives at risk as support to the frontline is reduced.

"The decision to close Cottesmore is shortsighted and designed solely to save money in the most arbitrary manner possible. We are not prepared to sit back while our members' jobs are cut and the vital services they provide are run into the ground, and will support any action they decide to take to defend their livelihoods..

"We have told the MoD where savings could be made but it has refused to listen. If it really wants to save money, the government should also act to collect the billions of pounds of tax missing from the UK economy through tax avoidance and evasion."


- For further information, interviews and comment contact Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2744

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