Belfast Telegraph

Union meeting MoD over Kinnegar jobs

by Bob Malcolm

At the time of going to press, the Community Telegraph can reveal that consultations are continuing between the Ministry of Defence and unions representing workers at Kinnegar Barracks and other “under threat” military posts in Northern Ireland.

Unite, DCS, GMB and Prospect unions are in consultation and negotiation with the MOD until September 2, 2011.

Last week the Community Telegraph reported on fears that the barracks outside Holywood is to close with the loss of over 450 military jobs and five civilian posts. But a member of staff at Kinnegar claims the most conservative estimate of civilian jobs affected by the decision is 70.

The question of job losses at the site comes after Defence Minister Liam Fox announced military reforms and cuts are to take place.

Last week Peter Weir, DUP MLA said the decision by the defence secretary would affect 453 military personnel and five civilian personnel, and said: “While there has been a commitment to post the military personnel to other units, the long term security of the future of Kinnegar base must be a grave concern.”

The Kinnegar insider, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “There aren’t five civilian jobs at risk at Kinnegar, it should be 70 civilian jobs that are at risk — and that is a conservative estimate.”

However, a Unite Union representative said: “I doubt that 70 jobs will go. The impact, at the moment will not affect 70 people.”

The spokesperson agreed that if Kinnegar was to close instead of having numbers reduced then 70 would be an appropriate number.

Andrew Muir, Alliance councillor for North Down, said his party received a letter directly from Liam Fox stating that 19th Light Brigade — stationed at Kinnegar — would be disbanded and merged with other units and that civilian jobs would be treated the same, in that “there would be attempts to relocate them”.

He said: “We have got to use resources sensibly and I have written to the Defence Secretary of State to ask what the future plans for the barracks are.

“I want to know will it continue to be used for military purposes and will it be kept open,” he added.

An MoD spokesperson said: “Tough decisions have had to be made to tackle the black hole in the MoD’s finances.

“Now, for the first time in a generation, the MOD will have brought its future plans and future budget into close alignment.

“One of the measures necessary to achieve this is to further reduce civilian staff numbers by an additional 7,000, expected to begin from 2015.

“Much of this will be achieved through reductions in recruiting and not replacing those who leave.

“Compulsory redundancy programmes would be used only as a last resort,” added the spokesperson.

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