Unite's demand David Cameron apology over Forestry Commission staff slur

Trade unions representing Forestry Commission employees in England have, in a letter to the Prime Minister, reacted angrily to comments made by David Cameron during Prime Minister's Questions earlier this month and called for an apology to staff.

Staff at the Forestry Commission expressed their outrage on hearing the Prime Minister say "I ask whether there are organisations that could do a better job than the Forestry Commission. I believe that there are."

Writing on behalf of the joint Forestry Commission’s trade unions, Robert Beaney, joint union chair, in his letter to the PM, said:

"As civil servants, we all accept that governments may, and indeed frequently do, change their minds and their policies and that it is our responsibility to react and adapt accordingly. It is because of the skills and dedication of the Staff of the Forestry Commission that they have, throughout the almost hundred years of their existence, consistently achieved this extremely efficiently and effectively.

"This level of performance has deservedly earned them an unrivalled reputation for delivery, which up to now has been acknowledged by politicians of all colours, whether in government or opposition.

"Your comments have left them feeling deeply hurt. This may not have been your intention and I would therefore like to give you the opportunity to apologise and give your assurances of the government’s recognition and appreciation of the years of exemplary service that yours and previous administrations have enjoyed."

Unite has pledged to fight job cuts of 29 per cent of the workforce - over 300 jobs - in England's forests. The job cuts are being put forward by the Forestry Commission’s management in response to a 25 percent reduction in funding imposed by the government as part of the comprehensive spending review. The government has also ordered the Forestry Commission to sell 40,000 hectares of woodland, around 15 percent of the Commission's land in England.

Unite, PCS, Prospect, the GMB and FDA are the trade unions representing Forestry Commission employees in England.

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