Spending review: Rosyth workers to strike - but vote kept secret until carriers decision

Share this article

SHIPYARD workers at Rosyth are preparing for strike action, just three days after the Strategic Defence Review spared them from the axe.

It is anticipated a walk-out will take place at the Fife yard next week, with a full strike to follow in a row over pay.

Workers agreed to remain silent about the planned action until after Tuesday's defence spending announcement.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited the Babcock-owned site to deliver the news that the building of two 5.2 billion aircraft carriers at Rosyth and on the Clyde will go ahead. That secures work at the yards for the next eight years at least.

But behind the celebrations and happy faces of the workers was a dispute over pay involving members from unions Unite, GMB & Ucatt, which could see them down tools within days.

Union chief Raymond Duguid said workers at Rosyth were not being treated equally in terms of pay. He said: "We got the ballot result back two weeks ago and we sat on the result because of the decision about the carriers.

"But we now need to move forward with the action because we lose mandate by 4 November.

"We don't want to go on strike - no-one does, as you lose money.

But it's about fairness."

He said 4,500 employees working at English yard Davenport had received a 5.2 per cent pay rise as part of a two-year deal, while white-collar staff at Rosyth also received a significant increase, of 4.9 per cent.

But industrial workers based at the Fife yard received only a 2.5 per cent rise.

Now they have voted overwhelmingly to protest against what they see as a cruel disparity - with 97 per cent in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and the same number in favour of a full strike.

Mr Duguid, chairman of the joint Industrial Unions Rosyth, said: "The strike is not to hurt the company but to get management back around the table and start discussions again.

"It's about fairness and equality - if managers are entitled to 4.9 per cent, then so too should the workers.

"We have worked out that the industrial workers are getting a third less than their gaffers, as they will get a rise of 10 but management will get 30."We just want the same as everybody else.

"If they can afford it for the higher paid, then they can afford it for the lower."

He revealed that the results of the ballot had actually been received two weeks ago, but workers waited to hear the announcements in the Strategic Defence Review before pressing ahead with their claim.

They are required to give seven days notice of any industrial action and a letter was sent to Rosyth's management via the local union officer on Wednesday stating the intention to stage a two-hour walkout next Thursday.

If there is no agreement, then the strike will go ahead on 2 November.

They are now awaiting management's response.

An overtime ban and removal of goodwill and work-to-rule will also come into force next Friday and continue until the disagreement is settled.

The company learned on Tuesday that not only were the two aircraft carriers going ahead but that refit work that was on the books is still heading to the yard. Mr Duguid said: "Obviously we are all pleased and we are all smiling. It is good news for us, but sad and depressing to hear about the other cuts."

Dates for the planned action were expected to be confirmed this week.

A spokeswoman for Babcock refused to comment.

Back to the top of the page