Nine in 10 RAF staff say service is overstretched

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Almost half of all RAF staff believe morale is low and nearly nine in 10 think they are being overstretched and it is causing serious problems.

Almost half of all RAF staff believe morale is low and nearly nine in 10 think they are being overstretched and it is causing serious problems.

Fresh evidence that Britain's air force is in crisis emerged in an analysis of internal opinion surveys published today.

The Independent on Sunday last week revealed the increasing incidence of the sexual harassment of female officers in the RAF.

Female personnel responding to an official survey recorded high levels of personal experience of harassment, with 56 per cent saying they had never been targeted.

Now an analysis of a second survey has found striking evidence of a wider malaise among the 52,650-strong service. Figures taken from the 2003 RAF Continuous General Attitude Survey suggest that 87 per cent of staff believe that there is overstretch and that it is causing serious problems in the RAF, with 68 per cent saying their own area of operation was being hit.

The latest available official survey on conditions in the air force also found that 49 per cent believe morale is low. An explanation for the disaffection is suggested by figures on working hours that indicate personnel are working an average of eight hours above the standard working week. Almost 190,000 hours were worked over a 48-hour week.

More than half of all staff surveyed blamed work commitments for failing to take entitled holiday leading to an estimated 450,000 days of annual leave left unclaimed, an analysis carried out by the Liberal Democrats found.

Paul Keetch, the party's defence spokesman, said the evidence of overstretch meant that it would be "irresponsible" for the Government to press ahead with planned cuts.

"Given the precision required throughout the service - by pilots, technicians and support staff - there is a very serious risk that safety could be jeopardised and performance undermined," he said.

Comments