AROUND eighty workers at RAF Alconbury could be forced to leave the Ministry of Defence as it looks to privatise maintenance and construction work at the base.

The MoD workers are currently sub-contracted to provide construction, maintenance and repair work for the visiting US Airforce.

But the MoD is moving to what it calls Next Generation Estate Contracts (NGEC) at many of its home bases - starting in Scotland and Northern Ireland early next year - and is working with the Americans to move in the same direction.

RAF Alconbury staff effected by changes have been told the Americans were looking at three options for base maintenance. But The Hunts Post understands that the option being pursued will see the end of in-house civilian workers, to be replaced by a private contractor. The decision could see TUPE rules come into play - rules that allow workers to be transferred to a new employer while protecting employees' terms and conditions.

However, the MoD has said that details of any changes to staff at RAF Alconbury and at other visiting force bases - RAF Molesworth, RAF Croughton and RAF Fairford/Welford - had yet to be finalised and further discussions with staff were to take place.

An MoD spokesman said: "We are currently developing the US Forces estate prime contract on behalf of the US Force to meet its mission requirements for facility maintenance and construction requirements at RAF bases used by the US Air Force.

"Future staffing arrangements are under consideration as part of this. It is too early to confirm the precise impact, although we can confirm that outsourcing under TUPE conditions of some activities currently undertaken by MOD staff is one option under consideration."

Squadron Leader Clive Wood, who is the MoD's top man at RAF Alconbury, told The Hunts Post: "The process is at an early stage. There will be more briefings and people will be given opportunities to ask questions and given appropriate answers."

Any changes are likely to take place in December 2015, he added.

NGECs are yet to come into force at MoD bases and no contract has yet been awarded to a private company - the process is "currently under procurement".

The changes are unlikely to impact on RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath - both used by the Americans - as these are seen as being involved in active duty.

The MoD was unable to say what level of savings the move to privatisation would bring.