Labour would set up trade union for Armed Forces to help boost pay
A Labour government would set up a trade union-style body to represent members of the Armed Forces, Jeremy Corbyn has said.
The move comes as new figures from the House of Commons library revealed that the starting salary for an Army private is now £1159 lower in real terms than in 2010.
To mark Armed Forces Day, Labour is announcing five pledges aimed at improving the conditions of military personnel.
Mr Corbyn vowed to ensure that all servicemen and women have access to “decent housing” by ending the “growing reliance” on the private rented sector.
And the party will support children of those serving, with better access to schools through an admissions strategy for councils to help those who frequently need to move.
Mr Corbyn said the military would also face a “root and branch review” of its outsourcing, with a “clear presumption in favour of public delivery of public contracts”.
Speaking to military personnel in the north-east of England, he will say: “We have an important duty to ensure that our Armed Forces, our veterans, and their families, have the very best support.
“But after nearly a decade of cuts and privatisation our Forces and their families are paying the price.
“The Conservative government has cut the pay of our servicemen and women, outsourced services to private companies, and left many living in service accommodation with leaking roofs, broken boilers and appliances that don’t work.
“Today we make our pledges to our service personnel to give them the pay, conditions of service and respect they deserve. Labour will guarantee a better deal for all those who serve in our Armed Forces.”
The new representative body for Armed Forces personnel would be similar to the Police Federation, which is effectively the trade union for officers.
Shadow Defence Secretary, Nia Griffith, will say that soldiers have had a "raw deal" under the Government's "short-sighted defence cuts and failed privatisations".
“As a country, we are rightly proud of our highly-skilled servicemen and women, ready at a moment’s notice to do whatever is necessary to defend our country...
“Those who serve our country deserve our full and unwavering support. The next Labour government will put the needs of the Armed Forces community at the very heart of what we do.”
The Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that our military personnel are rewarded for their service to this country.
"To further recognise the role of the armed forces, the Defence Secretary recently announced plans to ensure the lowest paid members receive a living wage.”