all-ranks • tri-service • independent

Working towards true representation for armed forces personnel

Welcome to British Armed Forces Federation - BAFF - the only independent representative all-ranks staff association open to serving members of any branch of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army and Royal Air Force, including the reserves. All UK forces personnel of any rank are eligible to join and, as BAFF is not a political organisation, to take an active part in its activities if they wish. Former members of the regular or reserve forces are also welcome.

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Armed forces personnel and the 'right to strike'

map of 47 Council of Europe membersIn our 2011 article Armed Forces Trade Unions? we said, firstly, that based on many surveys and our own consultations with serving personnel, we did not consider that traditional trade union status was the appropriate format for an armed forces representative body. Secondly that in any case, armed forces representative bodies in other advanced countries don't go on strike, and this includes those which are registered trade unions.

Might this be about to change in at least some European countries? BAFF has learned that the Council of Europe has published (7 June 2019) a puzzling and unhelpful decision by its European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) in a case brought against Italy relating to members of the Guardia di Finanza, a law enforcement agency which is "militarised" but does not come under the country's Ministry of Defence.

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'No need for staff association, because service family federations do a very good job on behalf of forces personnel'

Opposing a Private Member's Bill to authorise an armed forces representative body, a former defence minister argued that in addition to service charities there already are "a plethora of existing families federations across each of the services that do a very good job and exist to advocate on behalf of forces personnel and their families".

But the very fact of the forces family federations, to varying degrees, increasingly taking on an individual and collective representative role on behalf of service personnel - including single personnel - is, we would argue, proof of the need for representation.

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