Naval base workers launch industrial action over ‘safety concerns’

Bosses at the base, which houses the UK's nuclear weapons, have cut eight specialist posts.

Naval base workers launch industrial action over ‘safety concerns’ iStock

Industrial action is being launched at the HM Naval Base at Faslane with workers saying a decision to cut 15% of firefighters from the site has left them with “major safety concerns”.

Bosses at the Argyll and Bute base, which houses Britain’s nuclear weapons, have cut eight specialist posts from the fire safety crew.

Remaining crew members will now embark on an overtime ban after a dispute over staffing levels for dealing with emergencies at Coulport and Faslane naval bases.

Outsourcing services firm Capita, awarded the contract for fire response services from the Ministry of Defence in 2020, confirmed the cuts earlier this year.

And union officials have blasted the decision as an “accident waiting to happen”.

Emergency staff will now start industrial action on Thursday following a ballot of workers.

Unite Scotland, which represents around 45 fire safety crew workers, has slammed the decision to press ahead with the cuts.

The union says it has made repeated representations to Capita management around staffing levels and workers believe the cuts impair the abilities of the onsite fire crews to do their jobs properly.

Capita say it intends to mitigate safety risks due to the cuts by reducing fire risks with an investment in new technology.

But workers at the site say they are not aware of any new technology which would address ongoing safety concerns.

Debbie Hutchings, Unite industrial officer, said: “We have been in dialogue with Capita since their decision to press ahead with cutting the fire response services at the bases, but more concerns have been raised throughout this process.

“It’s deeply worrying that in all the years the bases have been in operation, there hasn’t been a practical exercise for maximum credible incident scenarios with all the relevant agency involvement.”

A Capita spokesman said: “We are disappointed by Unite’s decision to proceed with industrial action regarding MOD-approved changes that have been made to resourcing levels at Faslane and Coulport.

“We have a range of contingency options agreed with Defence Fire and Rescue and the Royal Navy’s Clyde leadership team which will ensure the delivery of fire service operations is maintained.

“Capita is working with Defence Fire and Rescue to modernise the MOD’s fire and rescue capability.”