Armed forces trade unions?
The British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) aims to operate as a professional staff association. It is not, and does not aim to be, a military trade union.
Following several surveys and the BAFF Steering Group's original consultations with personnel about the BAFF Constitution, BAFF has always taken the position that traditional trade union status would not be the right format for a body representing British armed forces personnel.
At present Queen's Regulations only authorise Regular Service personnel to "become members of civilian trade unions and professional associations in order to enhance their trade skills and professional knowledge and as an aid to resettlement into civilian life,"
Current UK legislation authorising the registration of trade unions simply does not apply to service personnel, who are not classed as "employees".
However, the military trade union question has nothing to do with fantasy activities such as "going on strike" or "voting on battlefield decisions".
Such activities only exist in the minds of those who have no knowledge of the issue, or are happy to make things up.
Representative military associations in different countries have many things in common, including the need for the protection of a corporate legal identity, but there is no "one size fits all" solution.
Some military associations are expressly excluded by their national laws from registration as trade unions. Others might not be welcomed by their national trade union movements.
But there are other countries whose servicemen and women have been operating robustly alongside British forces, such as Denmark (1) (2) (3) (4), whose representative military associations do have trade union status under their own national laws.
EUROMIL, the European Organisation of Military Associations, has both trade unions and non-trade unions among its member associations, and it often emphasises that:
Military associations entirely respect and abide by the chain of command, and neither condone or support insubordination and mutiny. Associations do not intend to comment on strategic or operational matters.
There are echoes there of the BAFF Constitution, which says:
Industrial action, insubordination, disobedience, etc specifically prohibited
The Federation shall not condone, encourage or take part in any form of industrial action by its members or insubordination by any members towards their superiors in the chain of command, and shall not commit or procure the commission by any person of any service offence, including mutiny, failure to suppress mutiny, misconduct towards a superior officer, disobedience of lawful commands, or conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.
The real point is that NO legal representative military association in any European country - including those associations which do have trade union status - has ever been involved in industrial action.
It is for those against representation to explain why they think that British service personnel would participate in industrial action, when the personnel of other European nations - including those with military trade unions - do not.
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