Warship manufacturer under threat of strike action over '£4 wage gap'

Workers at arms manufacturer BAE Systems' Glasgow yards will attempt conciliation with the firm on Monday.

Warship manufacturer BAE Systems Glasgow yards under threat of strike action over ‘£4 wage gap’ iStock

Work at two Glasgow shipyards is under threat of stalling as employees who distribute safety equipment have threatened to strike.

Trade union GMB has warned that frigate manufacturing at BAE Systems’ warehouses in Govan and Scotstoun could be brought to a halt next week, unless conciliation talks with subcontractor firm Wincanton deliver an improved pay offer for 50 store operatives.

Over 95% of members previously voted to support strikes against the pay policy in a full statutory industrial action ballot.

Union reps will attend a meeting at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to attempt negotiation with the firm on Monday, ahead of a planned 24-hour strike on Wednesday.

They are seeking to end a “two-tier pay structure” among store operatives who distribute trades and safety equipment to workers at the shipyards.

GMB said that a pay gap of over £4 an hour exists, with the majority of subcontractors paid £9.90 an hour while a dozen staff previously transferred from BAE Systems are paid over £14 an hour.

It is calling on Wincanton to equalise the hourly rate and the value of this year’s pay offer for all staff. 

GMB Scotland organiser Dominic Pritchard warned: “A stores strike will mean shipbuilders won’t have the tools and PPE to do their jobs, so manufacturing on the warships that Britain needs will stall unless Wincanton and BAE value our members fairly and better for the work they do. 

“The frigate programme is worth billions and vital to our future security, but it is an affront to UK shipbuilding that we have workers receiving less than £10 an hour while supporting large-scale defence projects. 

“Compounding the problem is the fact that Wincanton and BAE Systems have knowingly allowed this pay gap to fester between store operatives doing the same job when both firms could easily afford to lift-up wages for everyone.  

“These workers are struggling to stay above the breadline in the grip of this cost of living crisis, so if the employers want to avoid a strike next week, they must table fresh proposals that will tackle the in-work poverty and pay inequality facing our members.”

A BAE Systems spokesperson said: “This is a matter for Wincanton and its workforce.

“We have made temporary arrangements to ensure that there is no impact to our activities should the strike action take place next week.”

A spokesperson for Wincanton said: “We value the vital work our colleagues carry out every day and the offer we have put forward is fair and competitive.

“We remain committed to finding a resolution that satisfies all parties.”

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