British war grave staff caring for European cemeteries face ‘50% pay cut’ due to Brexit


[ad_1]

British war graves staff working in France and Belgium looking after the resting places of soldiers killed in the two world wars would face a 50% pay cut due to Brexit.

The unsung heroes have expressed outrage after learning they have to face a pay cut or return to the UK.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission emailed 32 employees, some of whom have looked after war graves for more than 35 years, to tell them about cost-cutting measures.

Gardeners, stonemasons and staff tend soldiers’ graves across France and Belgium, including those in the Somme, Normandy, Dunkirk, Ypres and Passchendaele.

British war graves staff working in France and Belgium would face a 50% pay cut due to Brexit. Pictured: Former British Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Thiepval Memorial in France, which commemorates servicemen who died in the battles of the Somme” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

British war graves staff working in France and Belgium would face a 50% pay cut due to Brexit. Pictured: Former British Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Thiepval Memorial in France, which commemorates servicemen who died in the battles of the Somme

They were informed by email on November 12 – just a day after Armistice Day – of the Commission’s plans to force them to return to the UK, where many of them have not lived since. decades, or see their wages cut in half, it is claimed.

The Commission gave staff three weeks to make its decision. If they decide not to be repatriated to the UK, they will switch to “local” contracts.

This means their contracts will be based on French or Belgian standards – depending on where they work – and lead to changes in their taxes and pensions, it is claimed. It would also mean that they would lose their allowances abroad.

Under a local contract, a UK head gardener is offered a salary of around £ 30,000, which is around £ 18,000 less than what he currently earns. Currently, the same gardener earns a salary of about £ 27,000 plus approximately £ 21,000 per year (€ 22,800) in Abroad Living Allowance.

The unsung heroes have expressed outrage after being told they have to face a pay cut or return to the UK.  Pictured: Tyne Cot Cemetery in Zonnebeke, Belgium

The unsung heroes have expressed outrage after being told they have to face a pay cut or return to the UK. Pictured: Tyne Cot Cemetery in Zonnebeke, Belgium

The Commission reportedly offered the 32 staff a one-time mitigation payment of up to £ 30,000 for lost benefits. If they accept it, they will not be helped with repatriation costs, the Times reports.

A 61-year-old gardener, who wished to remain anonymous, spent 35 years tending to war graves across Europe.

He told the Mirror: “It’s shocking and it has been handled so badly. It is so unfair.

“We have all dedicated our lives to caring for the graves of the brave soldiers who died and that is how we are rewarded.”

“There was no consultation – an email arrived one morning, which gave us three weeks to make a decision,” he added. ‘I feel so depressed.’

“We have to either go back to Britain, where many of us haven’t lived in years, or accept these terms which essentially mean our pay is cut in half.”

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission emailed 32 employees, some of whom have looked after war graves for more than 35 years, to tell them about cost-cutting measures.  Pictured: Bayeux War Cemetery in Normandy, France

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission emailed 32 employees, some of whom have looked after war graves for more than 35 years, to tell them about cost-cutting measures. Pictured: Bayeux War Cemetery in Normandy, France

Another staff member, who also wished to remain anonymous, told The Times: “There are many who have worked in the commission in Belgium and France for over 30 years.

“They feel like they are being forced to sign a contract after giving up their professional life to the commission and now they are treated disrespectfully.

‘I love my job but I can’t continue where I am [on the salary they are offering], so it’s pretty intimidating for us to think about what we’ll do next. All the work we put into it and they treat us like crap, ”the staff member added.

“We don’t have time to make a decision. If you have worked outside of the UK for this long, now you are faced with not being able to afford the house you live in.

Military historian Jeremy Banning accused the Commission of “hiding” behind Brexit to make the cuts.

Gardeners, stonemasons and staff tend soldiers' graves across France and Belgium, including those in the Somme, Normandy, Dunkirk, Ypres and Passchendaele.  Pictured: WWII American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy

Gardeners, stonemasons and staff tend soldiers’ graves across France and Belgium, including those in the Somme, Normandy, Dunkirk, Ypres and Passchendaele. Pictured: WWII American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy

“This beggar thinks they are being rushed into such a massive financial decision with no explanation or proper negotiation,” he told the Mirror. “Hiding behind Brexit is cowardly. ”

The Commonwealth and War Graves Commission said in a statement: “These new arrangements will allow them [staff] to continue working in France and Belgium in a firm and legal manner or to return to the UK if they so choose.

“We accept that the timeline for a negotiated solution has been tight, but we have created a dedicated team to support staff in all aspects of the transition. This assistance is continuous.

Barry Murphy, Director-General of the Commission, said: “While we understand the anxiety these changes cause, we believe the new arrangements will properly align this group of employees with our existing staff in France and Belgium so that they can continue to work in their chosen location for many years to come.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission ensures that the nearly 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth Forces who died in the two world wars are never forgotten.

They are responsible for 23,000 cemeteries in more than 150 countries around the world.

[ad_2]

Comments are closed.