Union members at MOD vent their feelings about leadership as morale plummets

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Prospect has said controversy surrounding the Secretary of State Liam Fox is damaging the department, where staff are already disillusioned and demoralised.

Asked to describe MOD leadership in three words, members’ top six responses were: “incompetent, short-sighted, inept, poor, uncaring and self-interested.”

Prospect national secretary Steve Jary said: “The level of concern and even anger among this group of staff is astonishing. These views are not borne out of self-interest. They betray a deep concern about the safety and effectiveness of our armed forces. As civil servants, they cannot say these things publicly. But our survey shows that they are not lone voices. We urge the government to sit up and take notice.”

This month MOD starts the process of cutting its civilian staff by 30,000 posts – one third of the total. 3,000 staff will leave in October – the first wave of over 5,000 departures this year.

Many of these people are not the Whitehall bureaucrats of popular imagination, but defence specialists: from engineers to intelligence analysts and from communications technicians to nuclear physicists.

As the first people start to leave MOD, Prospect has conducted a brief survey of its membership in the department. The results are startling:

• just 4 per cent thought MOD’s cuts could be achieved without damaging support to front-line troops.

Prospect members delivered a clear vote of no confidence in the leadership of MOD.

• 92 per cent said MOD’s leadership is undermining their morale and their commitment to MOD

• 77 per cent said they had no confidence in the ability of senior management to deliver the changes the department is planning.

The survey was conducted between September 19 and October 12 and gathered the views of just under 1,000 members: all specialist civil servants in MOD and its agencies.

The continuing loyalty and commitment of staff is also brought into question by members’ attitude to working for MOD. The Prospect survey suggested that:

• only 18 per cent – fewer than one in five – want to stay with MOD; the rest would leave if suitable work was available elsewhere.

This is clearly felt across the department: this year’s early release scheme resulted in 14,000 applications, from which 5,500 are expected to leave by March. A new scheme is to be launched next month looking for at least another 7,000 volunteers. Further job losses will be achieved through compulsory redundancies when bases start to close in 2012.

Steve Jary said: “MOD sees the huge numbers of staff wanting to leave as a ‘success.’ Looking at our survey, anyone would think that MOD leaders are deliberately engineering a situation where staff are so demoralised and undervalued that they choose to leave. This is no way to run a key government operation. Good employers know that they need motivated, well-trained and knowledgeable staff to deliver their objectives. By deliberately destroying its specialist capability MOD is putting the lives of our troops at risk.”


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