Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Liam Fox to 38 fired by email: I'm sorry. But you're still fired

Dear Liam: You're fired!

British army apologizes to troops fired by e-mail

Date: Tuesday Feb. 15, 2011 6:22 AM ET

LONDON — Britain's military apologized Tuesday for using e-mails to tell several dozen long-serving soldiers that they were being laid off.

The army said an "administrative error" meant the soldiers were not told in person that their contracts would be ended because of cutbacks.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said he was "furious that such a situation should occur."[emphasis mine]

"This is no way to treat our armed forces personnel," he said. "I want to know how this was allowed to happen and what measures will be put in place to prevent this from happening again."

British media reported that the soldiers were 38 warrant officers with more than 20 years' service who are on rolling short-term contracts. The Sun newspaper said one received the news while serving in Afghanistan.

The army apologized for the distress caused and said the soldiers had since been spoken to by their commanding officers.

Jim Murphy, defence spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, said they had been treated in a "callous, cold-hearted, soulless" way.

The British army is shrinking by some 17,000 troops and the military is scrapping a fleet of fighter planes and an aircraft carrier as part of the government's deficit-slashing spending cuts...

(CTV here. Yes, the story made it across the pond)

From the MoD:

Defence Secretary responds to e-mail error

A Defence Policy and Business news article

15 Feb 11

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has spoken of his 'fury' that 38 soldiers learned by e-mail that their contracts on the long-service list would not be renewed.

Dr Liam Fox

Dr Liam Fox outside the Ministry of Defence's Main Building in London
[Picture: Petty Officer Airman Amanda Reynolds, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

There is widespread coverage in the media this morning that 38 serving Warrant Officers on the long-service list learned from the Army by e-mail that their long-service contracts would come to an end in twelve months' time.

Responding, Dr Fox said:

"I am furious that such a situation should occur. This is no way to treat our Armed Forces personnel. I want to know how this was allowed to happen and what measures will be put in place to prevent this from happening again."

An Army spokesman said commanding officers had apologised to those concerned and will also ensure they get advice and support.

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey has also apologised and said that all appropriate steps would be taken to ensure that this does not happen again.

Mr Harvey said a 'serious administrative error' had been made by the Army Personnel Centre:

"People should have been seen individually and then an e-mail would follow with the details," he said.

"Unfortunately in this case, it's happened the other way around. That's very regrettable and we will make sure it does not happen again."

For members of the Armed Forces who are made redundant, appropriate support will be provided for transition to civilian life. All Service personnel are able to consult a Resettlement Advice Officer at any time in their career for advice on transition....

There is more here at the MoD site.

Doesn't really inspire much confidence in those supposedly running the shop, does it? Thank goodness our troops have more of a clue, especially in a time of war. I am guessing that this disgraceful episode will have taught Liam Fox et al a very valuable lesson - or two - about how to treat our fighting men and women.

If the lesson remains unlearned by the pols, maybe Dr Fox can himself be 'resettled' out of office. Just a thought.

Yours sincerely,

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