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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 August 2005, 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK
Fears over civilian jobs in MoD
Army watch-tower
The Army has begun dismantling watch-towers as part of the cutbacks
Up to 2,000 civilian staff working for the Ministry of Defence could lose their jobs as a result of military cuts in Northern Ireland, unions have said.

The Public and Commercials Services Union was due to meet on Thursday to discuss the impact of the move.

The union is urging the government and MoD to give a "clear indication" of the impact of its normalisation plans.

The ATGWU said unions wanted to meet Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram to push for recognition for its members.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has set out a two-year plan on demilitarisation which, he said, would be dependent on the security situation.

It came in the wake of last week's IRA statement ending its armed campaign.

Albert Mills of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union said the IRA statement was a "positive step" but the Ministry of Defence now needed to back up its praise of civilian staff with money, where appropriate.

Royal Irish Regiment soldiers
The RIR's NI-based battalions are to be disbanded

"What is now clear is the reduction in the military presence will lead to civilian job cuts," he said.

"The AT&G believe anyone faced with redundancy should be offered suitable terms in the same way as the Prison Service and others have been."

Peter Allenson, T&G national secretary for public services, said the situation for civilian staff in Northern Ireland was unique and should be treated as such.

'Next steps'

"It is also absolutely right in our view that MoD civilian staff should have recognition for the difficult role they have played and situations they have faced over and above any other part of the United Kingdom," he said.

In a statement the Public and Commercial Services Union said MoD staff were concerned about the impact of normalisation upon them.

It said that with with military numbers being halved it was probable that at least 1,750 jobs - half of the current 3,500 civilian posts in Northern Ireland - would be cut, and many sites would be closed.

Union spokesman Mel Taylor added: "The proposed closure of the MoD sites could have a huge detrimental impact on local economies and obviously these are uncertain times for staff.

"Today is important in planning the next steps in our response."





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