Monday, September 11, 2006

I read a story in my newspaper today about what the UK pays it's soldiers abroad.

The average salary of a newly qualified soldier is £14,300 before tax - compared with about £20,000 for a police officer. In a combat zone, being on duty for a minimum of 16 hours gives the troops an hourly rate of £2.45. There is also a longer service separation allowance of about £6 a day, but this only applies to those who have served at least 12 months away from home.

This is well below the current national minimum wage of £ 5.05 an hour, which is due to rise to £5.35 next month. In reality the figures for soldiers' earnings are even worse. In Helmand, where British forces are involved in some of the heaviest fighting in the Army's recent history, there is little respite from incessant attacks and they are, in effect, on duty all the time. Lt-Gen David Richards, the British commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, said soldiers were enduring "days and days of intense fighting, being woken up by yet another attack when they have not slept for 24 hours. This sort of thing has not happened so consistently, I don't think, since the Korean War or the Second World War. It happened for periods in the Falklands, obviously, and it happened for short periods in the Gulf on both occasions. But this is persistent, low-level dirty fighting."

The soldiers get free accommodation and food while based in combat positions such as Helmand. But they still pay council tax on their barracks rooms in Britain, and, back home, they also pay for food and board.

The armed forces were to be brought into the minimum wage structure by the incoming Labour Government in 1997. But the idea was dropped after pressure from the then Defence Secretary, George Robertson, who claimed it would put the military into a financial and legal straitjacket.

I read the above article and just wondered. Here in the UK we have a lot of Polish workers coming into the UK and doing our jobs for lower rates of pay. We now have the highest unemployment levels for the last six years and I am seeing lots of Polish registered lorries on our motorways. I also see loads of Polish coaches unloading passengers in London and the numbers are increasing every week. As Poland is now part of the EU and it's workers are travelling abroad why don't we have some Polish soldiers in our Army on cheap labour rates? They could even have their own regiment, their own colours and a logo with the slogan - "Polkillski, the new name in murder".
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