Negotiator Philippa Childs said: “It’s nonsense. Dr Fox clearly has an imperfect understanding of the work of the Met Office. Government has examined the potential for privatisation on several occasions and concluded that such a course of action is not sensible. Most recently the government’s Operational Efficiency Programme concluded that it was not feasible because of key services provided by the Met Office for the Ministry of Defence and other government departments.”
The union says Dr Fox’s starting point – “does it deliver anything for the front line” – is an insult to the staff of the Met Office who offer a direct and real contribution to the front line in Afghanistan through mobile units embedded with troops that provide key weather information in advance of operations.
“As well as providing the National Meteorological Service for the UK, its combined weather and climate change research and expertise is relied on by MOD, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Defra. Privatisation would denude the government of this intelligence.
“How can an agency that is a key contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change be privatised and still be expected to provide impartial, objective information?” asked Childs.
Prospect represents 1,200 scientists and other specialists in the Met Office at its headquarters in Exeter and its out-stations in the UK and overseas.