Socialist Worker

Dock workers walk out over pay in Plymouth

Issue No. 2067

Some 1,400 members of the Prospect civil service workers’ union at Devonport dockyard in Plymouth struck for half a day on Friday of last week against a “shoddy” performance pay system.

The specialist engineers, mangers and administration staff walked or drove out halfway through their shifts.

The strike follows a 94 percent vote in favour of action.

The strike is the first at the yard since its privatisation. Former owners Devonport Management Limited (DML) imposed a new pay structure at the yard which reserves pay progression payments solely for good or excellent performers.

It unilaterally terminated the previous pay progression system in 2004. Babcock now owns the dockyard.

Paul Noon, Prospect’s general secretary, met workers at the main Camel’s Head gate. Noon said, “Members have given tremendous support to the call for action.

“This is a clear demonstration of the anger of members and the company now needs to heed that message.

“The workforce have shown they will not put up with a shoddy system of performance pay that denies satisfactory performers the chance of ever getting the rate for the job.”

Del Northcott, Prospect branch secretary at Devonport, said, “The way staff have been treated is plain wrong and must change.

“A lot of pressure was put on members not to come out. The fact that they did reflects a complete loss of confidence in management.”

The action halted all work at the yard on ships, submarines, yachts and trains.

Staff in the finance, pension and payroll departments also joined in.

Hugh Whibley, a nuclear procedure writer, said, “I think this is long overdue. The company needs to realise that they can’t take us for granted.

“The mood at the dockyard today was very good, but we all felt that the strike was a last resort.”


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Tue 4 Sep 2007, 18:44 BST
Issue No. 2067
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