Workers at a weapons plant which makes arms for Ukraine have warned the safety of colleagues is at risk after a soldier covering for striking employees crashed a forklift truck.
Union bosses told how the vehicle “almost overturned” while the “inexperienced” military operative spun it out at the Ministry of Defence factory in Beith.
Troops have been enlisted to cover for “non-craft” workers at the Defence, Equipment & Support (DE&S) facility amid a two-week walkout over a pay dispute.
Striking staff say the MoD has created a “two-tier” wage system between “craft” workers – responsible for assembling the munitions – and those charged with safely transporting them around the factory and loading them for shipment to conflict zones around the world.
The incident, which involved a wheel on the forklift becoming trapped in wet grass when it left the road, was the subject of an official safety report.
No one is understood to have been injured, however GMB leaders have warned the soldier had a “lucky escape” and urged MoD bosses to get back round the negotiating table in an effort to end the strike.
The union’s Scotland organiser, Chris Kennedy, said: “Our members have years of experience transporting sensitive material around the site and would rather be working than picketing.
“We have grave concerns about the kind of duties being undertaken by inexperienced personnel during this dispute and for their safety and the safety of other workers.”
He added: “We would urge the MoD to stand down the troops and start talking about a resolution.”
The current strike follows four days of action earlier in the summer and the collapse of talks at conciliation service Acas when GMB Scotland accused the MoD of acting in bad faith.
Around 50 staff responsible for handling Brimstone and Storm Shadow-class missiles – which have recently been used to target Russian Black Sea strongholds during the war in the region – started the two-week walkout last Monday.
A MoD spokesperson said the forklift was at “no risk of overturning”, adding the soldier was “fully licenced and experienced” to drive the vehicle.
He said the incident was reported in DE&S’ safety reporting system and a “learning from experience had been captured”.
“An issue occurred last week at DM Beith when an unladen forklift truck’s wheel became stuck on wet grass when conducting a turn on a narrow road,” he added.
“No-one was injured and at no point was the vehicle at risk of overturning.”
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