Campaigners fighting to save our Fusiliers are surveying bosses to prove how few would allow their staff to become part-time soldiers.
The 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, has been earmarked for closure under plans to cut the number of serving soldiers by 20,000, but double the number of Territorial Army volunteers to 30,000.
Veterans leading a campaign against the proposals believe employers could be put off from hiring TA reservists because they would be eligible to be called up for overseas tours of duty lasting up to six months.
The majority of TA volunteers hold full-time jobs and companies are compensated for their absence. But campaigners believe that in a recession, employers would not cope without them and opt for hiring staff without TA demands.
Hundreds of questionnaires are being posted to businesses across Greater Manchester and beyond to gauge opinion.
Company bosses are being asked how many TA volunteers they employ, whether the issue would influence an interview and how they would cope with a sudden absence.
It is the latest stage in the campaign to save 2BN RRF.
Business leaders in Manchester have already voiced concerns that the TA proposals could further stretch the ‘goodwill’ which exists between the Army and employers.
Veteran soldier Dennis Laverick, 63, from Bury, who served with the Lancashire Fusiliers, said: “We are asking employers what their thoughts are about employing TA soldiers. We hope to gather evidence which could potentially lead to a fresh challenge over the increased use of reservists to replace sacked regular members of the Army in general, and 2BN RRF in particular.”
The historic battalion, which recruits largely from Bury, Salford, Rochdale and Tameside, can trace its roots back to the famous Lancashire Fusiliers.
It is one of five infantry units set to be disbanded by 2014 under spending cuts. Up to 600 personnel could lose their jobs.
Campaigners say axing the battalion wasn’t included in initial proposals but added later to replace plans to disband less well-recruited Scottish battalions. They also claim 2BN RRF is one of the best-recruited, popular and stable battalions.