Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Gurkhas slam 'unfair' defence cuts

Joanna Lumley, a leading campaigner on Gurkhas' rights, warned that compulsory redundancies would be a 'tragedy'
Joanna Lumley, a leading campaigner on Gurkhas' rights, warned that compulsory redundancies would be a 'tragedy'
Philip Hammond insisted the Government had 'no choice' but to axe more posts in the Army, RAF and Navy

Gurkhas claim they are being unfairly targeted for cuts after the Ministry of Defence announced around one in 10 posts in the brigade will be axed.

Up to 2,900 members of the Army, 1,000 members of the Royal Air Force and 300 members of the Royal Navy, including military top brass, will be made redundant in the latest round of Government cuts.

The MoD confirmed 400 Gurkhas with more than six years' service in the 3,500-strong brigade will lose their jobs.

Actress Joanna Lumley, a leading campaigner on Gurkhas' rights, warned that compulsory redundancies would be a "tragedy".

The Nepalese fighters appear to be losing out now as a result of improvements in their terms of service following the celebrated Gurkha Justice Campaign led by the Absolutely Fabulous star.

Under the changes, the Gurkhas can now serve a maximum of 22 years - rather than 15 years previously - bringing them in line with the rest of the Army.

The result has been to swell their numbers with soldiers who would otherwise have left staying on for an additional seven years and the brigade is now considered to be overmanned by military planners. It lost 140 troops in the first round of redundancies.

Ms Lumley said: "I know that the Government is wrestling with enormous financial worries. However, I would urge it to bear in mind the fantastic service given by all members of the Armed Forces, including the Gurkhas."

Dhan Gurung, 43, who was a Gurkha soldier for 18 years and also chairs the Folkestone Gurkha Memorial Fund in Kent, said: "This is a very unfair decision by the Ministry of Defence.

"If you compare the cuts that have been made to the whole of the Army and Navy, the strength of the cost-cutting on the Gurkhas seems unfair. It's like a form of discrimination towards Gurkhas. The Gurkha people are very loyal, very brave and hard-working people."

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