Union members at nuclear bases on the Clyde have balloted to strike as disputes over pay continue.
Unite the union announced on Saturday that workers at the Coulport and Faslane naval bases are set to take part in rolling industrial action following “overwhelming” support from its 1,000-strong membership.
Three groups took part in the ballot this month; Babcock Non-Industrial workers, covering engineers, supervisors, administrative staff and managers, Babcock Industrial staff, which includes plumbers, electricians, joiners and mechanical fitters, and ISS Facility Services workers who are cleaning and catering staff at the bases.
Of the 65% of Unite members who turned out, 95% voted in support of strike action after they rejected Babcock Marine’s pay offer.
“Unless Babcock Marine management get back round the negotiating table and start to behave responsibly then a wave of industrial action is set to strike the bases from the middle of March.”Stephen Deans, Unite regional coordinating officer
The rolling strike action, set to begin at 10am on March 12, will also be held in conjunction with a continuous call out ban and ban on all overtime.
The industrial workforce rejected a pay offer of 1.1% for 2020. For 2021 and 2022, the offer was based on the consumer price index plus 0.5%.
A pay settlement was imposed on the non-industrial side without any involvement or consultation from the trade union.
Stephen Deans, Unite regional coordinating officer, said: “The overwhelming support for industrial action from Unite’s membership at the Clyde naval bases should be seen as a strong signal of the frustration and genuine anger felt by the workforce.
“Until this point, Babcock Marine have refused to meaningfully engage with us on pay and the future workplace relations at the bases following the outcome of the Ministry of Defence’s Future Maritime Support Programme.”
“Unless Babcock Marine management get back round the negotiating table and start to behave responsibly then a wave of industrial action is set to strike the bases from the middle of March. This is at a time when contracts worth up to £200m will be decided upon.
“This situation is not irretrievable or inevitable but a change is solely dependent upon the company meaningfully engaging with Unite, and we hope they take up this final opportunity before action starts.”
Unite has previously raised concerns over the looming outcome of the Ministry of Defence’s Future Maritime Support Programme (FMSP).
It warned that splitting national security contracts into smaller work packages endangers the country’s military power and nuclear response capabilities.
The trade union has also criticised Babcock Marine management for refusing to engage with Unite on the future shape of the bases following the contract decision, which is expected to be decided upon in April 2021. The contracts are anticipated to run until March 2026.
The union said the work from the FMSP is estimated to be worth between £175-£200m for the Clyde bases, based on a Ministry of Defence projection that the scheme will deliver a 30% saving on the previous framework which had a five year operating figure of £250m on the Clyde.
A Babcock spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that our Unite trade union members at HMNB Clyde have chosen to vote for industrial action.
“Having agreed a 2020 pay deal with part of our organisation, we remain keen to continue to engage with our Unite trade union representatives, to try and find a mutually acceptable resolution for their members.
“Keeping people safe at HMNB Clyde remains our top priority and we will continue to work closely with our customer to deliver our commitments and ensure a safe and secure environment.
“On the matter of future bargaining arrangements, we are engaged in a competitive confidential procurement process on the FMSP with the Ministry of Defence. Only once the outcome of this competition is known can we have an informed discussion with Unite.”