Tuesday, 17 November 2009


I’ve just read, over on the Ranting Penguin blog, something that I completely missed on Sunday, and which has left me totally speechless, not to mention incandescent with anger.

According to The Times, there are civil servants from the Ministry of Defence working over in Afghanistan. Fair enough, there are soldiers out there in Afghanistan, and there must be back up ancillary work that requires an administrator to do it. And so it is right that we have a group of civil servants out there. The civil servants work at army bases, and may accompany Ministers in walk abouts, but they volunteer for the job, they are not deployed in the front line, and none has been killed in Afghanistan.

Now we come to the bit that might be considered to be rather strange.... OK, strange is not the right word.

A junior infantry man, on a six month tour of Afghanistan will receive a boost to his wage for undertaking the dangerous and difficult work that he will encounter out there. Good, I hear you say. No complaint there. On his £16,681 annual salary, he will receive something in the order of £580 a month as a bonus. On the other hand, a junior civil servant gets a bonus of..... wait for it.......£6,750 a month on top of his salary.

Alan Johnson defended the bonuses that the civil servants get (it seems that Mr Aintworth was unavailable (or too stupid) for comment), saying they did difficult and dangerous work.

Does the Home Secretary know what soldiers do?

(Sorry I couldn't get the links to work.... don't know why)


  1. Tris..

    I'm not surprised at this. The Civil service is a weird but wonderful thing to work for. At one end people who matter are paid peanuts then at the other side we have pen pushers who earn lots of money for hitting targets that have no benefit to anyone.

    Even at the BBC 11 top people earn more than the PM and the number is much much higher across the civil service.

  2. Yes Spook:

    There is certainly something weird about the way that we pay people. The fact that Bruce Forsyth gets more than the Prime Minister is something I would have to take issue with (even although the prime minister is even more crap than Brucie!!). But seriously you make a valid point about the BBC.

    But every day the lads on the front line in Afghanistan are seriously risking their lives, and the people back in the barracks are pushing bits of paper around and preparing for the next time that Isn'tworth turns up for a photo-opportunity, and they get more than double a private's annual wages in a bonus for 6 months of this 'dangerous work'.

    If we have money to hand out in bonuses to clerks surely we must have money somewhere to pay these lads a bit more.

    This is just madness the way that it is. It could only happen here.

  3. As a good friend of a "junior" Civil Servant,(my age) who has "relatively" risked his life just doing his job all over the world, can I try and answer your question?
    As a young man in the Navy, he did (that word again)a relatively few, and relatively safe tours of Norn Irn, compared to the Toms on the streets.
    Then came Maggie's war and he went doon the Falklands and came back "relatively" unchanged, compared to some of our mates.
    As a despised Civil Servant he was in Downing St being mortared by the IRA and laughed it off.
    Yet again mortared, Baghdad, early Twenty-first Century..
    It is indeed all relative...
    So Munguin, will this rather elderly, decorated veteran, get up off his arse and take a pay cut just to do his job?


    As long as journos, sitting on *their* arse in Wapping, get self righteous about "our boys" while making far more than ANY Civil Servant who isn't about to get a Knighthood *shut the fuck* up.

    Ach. I get grumpy sometimes.

  4. Disgusting. That I understand is not enough, but the sheer scale of New-Labours abuse of our soldiery is deeply enfuriating. Beyond what mere words can get across.

    All I will say is this is a very good point, very well made Munguin. What makes it so sickening is that Alan Johnston is talked up as being a potential Labour leader, but with judgement like this, if he thinks this is "fair"...then I really do not believe he is up to the task of leading anything, least of all a self appointed 'working mans party'.

  5. Conan: I don't want to take away from the work that civil servants do, but the idea that they should have a bonus of nearly £50,000 after a 6 months tour, and a private should have a bonus of £3000 + or - is ridiculous. OK the private signed up for war and all it's horrors, but, as I understand it, the MoD civil servant volunteers for this posting.

  6. Dean:

    One of the things that I can't understand is why on earth Johnston was talking about this. Is he not the Home Secretary and is there not a Defence Secretary paid to do the job of defending his department (as well as the country)? It seems that he can do neither?

    Of course the most important thing that I can't understand is why soldiers are being paid less than administrators. The reason Johnston gave was that it is dangerous work, and of course it is, but as I said in my post, what on earth does he think soldiering is? If he doesn't know I suggest he look at the mortality figues and at the injuries that soldiers are coming home with.

    The fact that no government minister or member of the royal family attends the homecoming of the bodies or indeed the injured troops is no excuse for no one telling them that they exist.

    And where is the Defence Secretary? Off sick?

  7. Conan, you no stretchin it a bit saying 'junior'? Mind you I understand what that means in the CS.

    What I can't understand is, if your friend liked military environments so much why didn't he join up?

    Also any civil servant has the right to refuse such a posting. It isn't compulsory. Right enough they never get further promotion but that's a lot less riskier than going into a conflict surely.

    I've no problem with them getting medals either, but when they're given Military medals that's a step too far for me.

  8. Tris certain departments of the civil service have their own pay structures. I think the military one is well down the list.

  9. I think we need a serious review of pay structures right through the public sector. There is a great deal that is wrong with it. Some people are paid rediculously too littel and some far far too much.

    Much of the structure is top heavy. I believe for example that we have, and pay, more Admirals than we have ships?