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Faslane staff vote to strike over pay dispute

Faslane naval base. Workers have voted for the first time to take strike action. Picture: Neil Hanna

Faslane naval base. Workers have voted for the first time to take strike action. Picture: Neil Hanna

  • by SHÂN ROSS
 

WORKERS at the Faslane nuclear naval base, home of the UK’s fleet of Trident submarines, have voted to take strike action in a row about pay.

Members of the Unite union said last night that workers had overwhelmingly voted for action over a below-inflation pay offer of 1 per cent.

The action is likely to involve submarine civilian support workers, including cleaners, maintenance staff and personnel who monitor radiation levels and the safe disposal of radioactive materials.

Ian Waddell, the union’s national organiser, said the strike action – the first at the base – could have “significant implications” for the running of the nuclear naval and armaments sites at both Faslane, on the Gare Loch, 25 miles from Glasgow, and nearby Coulport Naval base on Loch Long.

Eight hundred workers will strike after more than 95 per cent of Unite members backed the action following a turnout of 82 per cent.

The union said Babcock Marine, part of Babcock International Group, which is responsible for managing the infrastructure, had discriminated against workers at Faslane and Coulport by agreeing a pay deal with employees at Davenport in Plymouth and Rosyth in Fife matching or above the rate of inflation.

They said the company had cited pressure from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to bring down contract costs as the reason.

The union has informed Babcock Marine of the result of the ballot and will be holding mass meetings with workers over the next few days. It must then give Babcock seven days’ notice before strike action commences.

Mr Waddell said: “Workers on the Clyde deserve better than the below-inflation pay cut Babcock wants to impose on them and this overwhelming mandate for strike action is a reflection of their anger.

“This is a conscientious, highly skilled collective that understands the unique challenges of their working environment and have consistently worked with the employer down the years to help deliver sustainability for both Babcock and the Ministry of Defence on the Clyde.

“It is shameful that Babcock is trying to hide behind the Ministry of Defence and say its hands are tied by the contractual

arrangements, forcing a pay cut which is not only derisory but patently unfair in comparison with the consolidated above-inflation deals settled at Devonport and Rosyth.

“Put simply, we cannot accept regressive public sector pay policy being imposed on private sector workers and Babcock Marine should stand up for the loyal workforce.”

Mr Waddell added: “It’s not too late to reach a negotiated settlement, and we are ready to do this with the company directly or at Acas, but quite rightly workers at Faslane and Coulport are not prepared to be the poor relations of a very profitable family.”

Last night, a spokeswoman for Babcock Marine said: “Discussions on pay negotiations are a matter for Babcock and our employees and we continue to try to find a way forward.”

A spokesman for the MoD said: “The MoD is committed to the safe and effective running of HMNB Clyde and has robust contingency measures in place.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “This is a matter for the MoD. Their priority should be the safe operation of the base at Faslane, and the local community.”

 

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