Socialist Worker

Solid strikes put pressure on Defence Support Group bosses

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2430

Defence Support Group workers picket line in Stirling, central Scotland

Defence Support Group workers' picket line in Stirling, central Scotland (Pic: Josh Brown )

Defence Support Group (DSG) workers took their fourth consecutive day of strikes today, Thursday, demanding an 8 percent pay rise.

Around 700 workers in the Unite union took part in sites across Britain. They repair and maintain military vehicles and equipment.

The strike came at a crucial time in Ministry of Defence (MoD) bosses’ moves to sell off most of DSG next April. Private firm Babcock was announced as the preferred buyer on Wednesday.

Picket lines have got bigger and kept up an upbeat and defiant mood throughout the action.

Workers cheered and passing traffic tooted in support at DSG Stirling in Scotland this morning.

And bosses have had to watch in helpless frustration as vital deliveries are turned away.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail took questions at a rally in Donnington.

There were cheers when one worker said  the next strikes should be called before the next meeting with management.

Cartmail herself argued for escalating strikes—and she was right. There are also calls for a protest outside the MoD in London when its sales team meets Unite next Thursday.

The privatisation plan raises the stakes for both workers and bosses.

It puts more pressure on bosses to meet workers’ demands or risk the sale falling through.


The last thing Babcock want is to inherit an unsettled dispute.

A message from Unite officials read out at picket lines reported that Babcock bosses say they are calling on DSG to negotiate.

And the Acas conciliation service has contacted Unite about talks.

Unite convenor at Donnington Brett Davis told Socialist Worker, “This seems to be a sign that the other side blinked first.

“We have to make sure we don’t let up, and keep the pressure on them.”

But for workers, it means they are fighting for their future as well as their pay.

There are fears that Babcock could be planning closures and job cuts after the takeover.

Successful action now can build the union and put workers in a better position to fight future attacks.

But it can also help reinvigorate the campaign against privatisation.

In the past DSG has serviced civilian equipment from council vehicles and trains to cancer screening vans.

They could do all kinds of socially vital work in the public sector, instead of behind sold off to private bosses.

Send messages of support to [email protected] and pictures from picket lines to [email protected]

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.