The Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB), in their recently-published report on pay, allowances and charges for 2019-20, set out their thoughts on whether multi-year approaches to the Armed Forces' pay round would be appropriate. Multi-year deals are increasingly common in other sectors of the public service, but the Board took the view that multi-year deals would not be of benefit to the Armed Forces:

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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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". [Our emphasis]

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 true representation.

BAFF already offers free basic professional legal advice for any BAFF full member approached by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) for an interview, even if apparently as a witness and not under caution. After consultation with the legal firm with whom we have this arrangement, BAFF is very pleased to confirm that this offer applies to all recent or current military operations, including the Op Northmoor inquiry (Afghanistan / Herrick).

Reports tonight (3 Oct) that the Government intends to derogate from the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) have been greeted with some relief, given the extent to which the rights conferred by the Convention now appear to have been abused.

"Derogation" would mean a limited opt out from specified parts of the Convention in respect of specified activities, such as an overseas operation. A "blanket" derogation from the whole of the Convention is not possible, therefore derogation would not eliminate the possibility of vexatious claims.

The announcement does not affect the ongoing IHAT and Northmoor inquiries.