THE Ministry of Defence’s redundancy scheme was called ‘a farce’ last night after it emerged sailors who came home from the war in Libya will be sacked this week.
Sailors – many of who only returned to the UK a few weeks ago – will discover they are out of a job when the MoD makes hundreds of compulsory redundancies on Friday.
But those serving on ships which went to the warzone later in the conflict and are still in Libyan waters will be spared the axe in the first wave of navy job losses.
One serving officer, who did not wish to be named, told The News: ‘It does seem farcical that just because you were on a ship that went out to Libya in March but came back in June you may be fired but if you went to Libya in April and are still out there you will not be fired this time round.’
The navy is having to axe 5,000 jobs by 2015 as part of the government’s cuts to plug a £38bn black hole in the defence budget.
The MoD said the first tranche of 1,600 job losses will be announced on Friday.
Most of the redundancies will come from sailors who have volunteered to leave.
But speculation – which was not denied by the MoD yesterday – is that 400 compulsory redundancies will have to be made because fewer sailors than expected asked to leave.
Sailors eligible for the axe include those who served in Libya aboard the Portsmouth-based frigates HMS Westminster and HMS Iron Duke, and the destroyer HMS York.
Also at risk are men from the Portsmouth-based minehunter HMS Brocklesby which was praised as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Britain’s Libya operations by the navy’s second-in-command Admiral Sir Trevor Soar when the ship returned home in July.
It was reported yesterday that dozens of sailors who helped refugees escape the warzone aboard the now-decommissioned frigate HMS Cumberland will be fired.
Former Second Sea Lord Admiral Sir Michael Layard, who was responsible for sailors’ welfare between 1992 and 1995, said: ‘It all comes back to the defence review which in my view was badly conducted and based on false premise.
‘I have huge sympathy for those who are facing being made redundant – particularly if they have been in harm’s way literally days or weeks before. My heart goes out to them.’
The MoD said it would not comment on specifics until sailors receive their redundancy notices on Friday.
Anyone in receipt of the Operational Allowance on the day redundancy notices are issued is not eligible to be made redundant unless they have applied, the MoD said.
This includes the destroyer HMS Liverpool and minehunter HMS Bangor because they are still on operations off the Libyan coastline.
Beth Torvell, from The Navy Campaign pressure group, said: ‘As the smallest service with a close knit community, the impact of these cuts has been felt not just by the servicemen and women, but by their families and loved ones who are so often forgotten in the fight.
‘Despite the gloom, this community has been through tough times before and has always come out the other side stronger.
‘We have every confidence that the resilience of the navy will shine through as they continue to do an outstanding job.’
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
IN April, the MoD confirmed the Royal Navy would lose 1,600 sailors in the ﬁrst tranche of military job cuts which will be officially announced this Friday.
Of these, 1,211 are junior ratings, 274 senior ratings and 121 are ofﬁcers.
The ofﬁcers selected will be from the engineering, medical, warfare and logistics branches up to the rank of captain.
The navy said job losses within junior and senior rates would be from a ‘variety of branches’ but will not confirm which branches until Friday.
Fifteen of the Fleet Air Arm’s 59 ﬁxed-wing pilots will go after the government got rid of Harrier jump jets.
The MoD was hoping to make up most of the redundancies from volunteers, but as The News revealed in July, fewer sailors than expected put their hands up to go – meaning compulsory redundancies would be made.
It’s believed more than 400 sailors will be forced out of service on Friday, although this was not being officially confirmed by the MoD.
Volunteers will serve six months’ notice before leaving the armed forces while compulsory leavers will serve 12 months’ notice.
Last year’s defence cuts said the navy must lose 5,000 sailors by 2015 – a sixth of the navy.
Another tranche of naval redundancies will be concluded next March.
A third tranche of naval job losses is likely to be announced in September 2012.