The British Armed Forces Federation welcomed members of both Houses to a parliamentary reception on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 to explain more about the campaign for recognition of a professional staff association for the armed forces.
The event was sponsored by Linda Gilroy MP (Plymouth Sutton - Defence Committee member) and the speakers included Commandant Michael Geraghty of RACO - Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (Ireland) and Flemming Vinther, Chairman of HKKF - Union of Enlisted Privates and Corporals in the Danish Army. Michael and Flemming explained how recognised staff representation operates in their respective countries.
It became very clear from the presentations that while the two organisations had much in common, there were also national differences. BAFF had also looked at successful military associations in the United States and Australia, and was not putting forward some kind of European "one size fits all" solution for the British armed forces. Unlike RACO and BAFF, HKKF was a trade union but their Chairman emphasized that like other public service unions in Denmark they had signed up not to undertake industrial action.
In fact, despite mischievous attempts to suggest otherwise, BAFF has found no evidence of any recognised representative military association in any modern European country having ever involved itself in any kind of industrial action, whether registered as a trade union or not.
The final speaker was a senior serving officer who had previously commanded the Danish Battle Group fighting in Helmand province alongside British forces. In an utterly unforgettable presentation, he spoke from a commander's perspective about the unit relationship with the representative organisation back home, which had helped to sustain his soldiers and their families and, in so doing, to maintain the unit's endurance and effectiveness on operations.
Also present were the Secretary-General of HKKF Denmark, and representatives of the British Gurkha Welfare Society and of law firm Russell Jones & Walker.