West Dunbartonshire’s MP has renewed calls for an armed forces representative body after it was revealed the lowest paid armed forces personnel are paid almost £2 less than the UK government’s National Minimum Wage.
Local SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes – Scotland’s only representative on the Common’s Defence Select Committee – has said he plans to re-introduce his Private Member’s Bill to create a representative body giving service personnel ‘one strong voice’.
If passed, the Armed Forces Representative Body Bill would create a staff association to represent the interests of members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as employees and negotiate things such as pay and working conditions, including ensuring pay was in the spirit of a real living wage regardless of age. The Bill is in line with the SNP’s 2017 manifesto commitment.
The call comes after the SNP asked what steps the Ministry of Defence was taking to ensure that the lowest paid armed forces Reserve personnel are paid rates equivalent to the National Living Wage and was told that a Part-Time Volunteer Reserve is paid £6.28 per hour for an eight-hour day. The National Minimum Wage for over 25s is £8.21 and Part-Time Reserves have to work a minimum of eight hours just to get paid.
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“Part-time reserves have to work long hours at times, and need to work a minimum of eight hours to get paid, which means that the hourly rate can fall below the National Minimum Wage – this is unjust and unacceptable. The eight hours part-time reserves must work should at least pay the equivalent of the National Minimum Wage.
“An armed forces representative body, which my bill seeks to introduce, would allow the armed forces to speak with one voice and negotiate things such as improved pay and working conditions, including a pay that is in the spirit of the National Minimum Wage or better – a real living wage which is what my SNP colleagues and I have been calling for.
“The current status quo is failing armed forces personnel, especially the lowest paid Part-Time Reserves, and ultimately, the relatively weak position that they find themselves in is not working in their favour. This is why I will be re-introducing my bill in the new parliamentary term – to ensure that conditions for serving personnel, something the Tories at Westminster seem to have discarded, are improved and that any issues are addressed swiftly and comprehensively.”