Wednesday, February 23, 2005

MoD Memo braced Staff for hostile strike action

The extent to which MoD is expecting a reaction to the current cuts plans emerged yesterday when GBC revealed a document that had been circulated to service personnel and UK staff and warned them to avoid confrontation. Malcolm Croft, Chief of Staff, issued a letter which gave advice as to how to act during any strike action.

In it he is quoted as saying that uniformed personnel must stick to the local command's adopted line that the MoD remains committed to Gibraltar but he adds that this does not mean there won't be changes. Personnel are advised not to be seen in uniform outside the MoD estate and to avoid socialising in areas frequented by locally employed personnel. Nor should they get into arguments with disgruntled staff nor be provocative.

Responding to the news bulletin the MoD issued a statement saying that the Chief of Staff's guidance note needs to be understood and put in the context of the expected opposition from the trades unions to the MoD's announcement about ISP contractorisation. It should also be noted that distribution of guidance of this type is normal procedure in these types of circumstances.

I hope that the Trades Unions understand both the MoD's strong commitment to retaining its present level of military output in Gibraltar and the absolute requirement to ensure that these operations are cost effective. Despite this, there may be individuals in Gibraltar determined to oppose these new support arrangements.

I am keen that we avoid any unnecessary provocation in the eyes of such people. That is the objective of the Chief of Staff's guidance note. It simply conveys preventative measures with the aim of ensuring that peaceful protest remains just that and that the opportunity for confrontation is minimised. It in no way should be read as implying that I or my senior staff believe that there is a threat from Gibraltar's civilian population directed against British military personnel in Gibraltar, a substantial number of whom are anyway Gibraltarian.

says Alan Adair, the Commander British Forces.

I, and the MoD greatly value the support which Gibraltar and its people have traditionally extended to the British military. The Royal Navy continues to view Gibraltar as a 'home port'. I am confident that I will be able to count on this support from the Gibraltarians in the future and look forward to doing so," he said.

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