BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
England 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



War Graves Commission spokesman Peter Francis
"We are very intent on keeping the names of the fallen alive"
 real 28k

Thursday, 31 August, 2000, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
British war grave pay row
War Cemetery
War graves are tended year round
British gardeners tending war graves overseas are fighting plans which they say could leave some of them thousands of pounds a year worse off.

The War Graves Commission says the move, which affects 77 workers earning between 10,500 and 13,500 a year, is a "recalculation" of overseas allowances paid on top of salaries.

But the gardeners are attacking the plan as a "disgrace" and fear it will force them out of their jobs.


What is about to happen is a disgrace to the memory of the men who died

British gardener,
Ypres cemetery
The Transport and General Workers Union is planning an appeal to ministers if the commission does not reverse its decision.

The gardeners are mainly employed in northern France to look after cemetery gardens and headstones and to train local workers.

They are warning that, if too many of them are forced back to the UK and locals are drafted in as replacements, standards could fall.

War Graves Commission spokesman Peter Francis told the BBC it had fulfilled the "debt of honour" to Britain's war dead for the past 80 years "and we will continue to do so".

Sacrifice

"We are very intent on keeping the names of the fallen alive so that future generations will understand the sacrifice paid for the freedoms that we enjoy," he said.

The commission says staff are given allowances for expenditure such as accommodation and the cost of keeping children in schools back at home.

The recalculation is the result of two years of consultations. But the commission is pledging to look at individual cases.

War graves
A place of pilgrimage for many visitors
One senior worker who tends graves at the British war cemetery in Ypres, Belgium, told The Mirror newspaper: "What is about to happen is a disgrace to the memory of the men who died."

He says that, with three children, the 450-a-month pay cut he is facing would force him out of his job and back to the UK.

Chris Kaufman, a TGWU national officer, says if British gardeners do leave their jobs, relatives and visitors arriving at war graves on the continent will not be able to find a "friendly face".

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

01 Jul 00 | UK
Legion remember Somme dead
11 Nov 99 | UK
Net plays remembrance role
12 Jun 99 | Queens birthday honours
Service with a smile honoured
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories