Military job losses 'unfair', say MPs


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The decision to subject military personnel to compulsory redundancies is " unnecessary, grotesquely unfair" and may lead to problems of shortages in key areas, a committee of MPs said yesterday.

About 40 per cent of those losing their jobs in the armed forces are being forced to leave while all of the Ministry of Defence civilian redundancies will be voluntary.

James Arbuthnot, the chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, said: "The stark and shocking differences between redundancies in the MoD require an exceptionally persuasive explanation, which we are yet to hear."

He added: "Look at the areas where the armed forces are undermanned. Why cannot the MoD retrain service personnel who face redundancy to fill those many trades where there are shortages, such as combat medical technicians or intelligence gatherers?"

The armed forces redundancy programme is expected to deliver up to 11,000 redundancies across the three services. Civil-servant redundancies have a target of 15,000.

The Permanent Under-Secretary of the MoD told the committee that civilians are flexibly employable but the military is not.

The Defence minister Andrew Robathan said the armed forces had been "less forthcoming" with applications for voluntary redundancy than civilian staff.

The committee condemned both explanations as inadequate.