Socialist Worker

Defence Support Group bosses face month of strikes as action grows

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2425

donnington workers’ lunchtime protest in July

Donnington workers’ lunchtime protest in July (Pic: Martin James)


Workers at the Defence Support Group (DSG), the Ministry of Defence equipment repair agency, were set to begin strikes this week over pay.

DSG’s Unite union members were set to walk out nationally on Wednesday alongside civil service colleagues in the PCS union.

But each site is now also committed to another day, after a national combine meeting where stewards from Donnington came with a mandate to go out for three days. 

This was a result of a mass meeting of workers.

Unite convenor in Donnington Brett Davis told Socialist Worker, “After the pensions dispute workers are worried about one-day strikes that aren’t followed up. 

“I think officials forget the effect it has on people to be marched up the top of the hill, marched down and then left. 

“Workers want to see a strategy, and we’ve had to show we’ve got one.” 

Workers are demanding an 8 percent pay rise, which the DSG’s £65 million surplus could easily cover.

“We’ve recruited to the union hand over fist—about 20 people have signed up at Donnington since the ballot. 

“That includes former members who’d lapsed because they didn’t see it as worth it unless we were taking action.”

Strike

Instead of Donnington workers taking three days action and workers at other sites only one, now there are two strike days planned at each site.

“That means the action is growing,” explained Brett. 

“The Friday, when we were going to strike, would only be a half day at many sites. 

“Now bosses face disruption every week this month—and we are looking at escalating next month if we need to.”

The “plus one” strategy is to start with Donnington near Telford and Sealand in north Wales striking on Thursday of this week. 

Further strikes are planned at Stirling in central Scotland and Catterick in North Yorkshire on Tuesday of next week. 

A week later it is Colchester in Essex, Bovington in Dorset and Warminster in Wiltshire.

Other DSG unions Prospect—which organises white collar staff—and GMB—which organises most of the Ashchurch site in Gloucestershire—are also balloting and could join action in November.

Brett argued, “DSG has millions in the bank and is about to be privatised—we need to fight them now.”

They want other workers to join them in a show of solidarity, coming down to the picket lines and sending messages of support.

“Thursday is particularly important for us,” said Brett. 

“The other sites are looking to Donnington now, and if we have a really good show of solidarity when we come out it will give them all a shot in the arm.

“The beauty of this dispute is that we are in control—and we want to win.”

Rush messages of support to DSGstrike@yahoo.com and arrange to take union banners down to your nearest DSG picket line

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