Socialist Worker

On the offensive: defence workers escalate strikes in pay battle

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2431

Unite members gathered today, Thursday, at the MoD in London to keep up the pressure in their pay battle

Unite members gathered today, Thursday, at the MoD in London to keep up the pressure over pay (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Defence Support Group (DSG) workers have gone on the offensive in their dispute over pay, calling another ten days of strikes. The action is set to begin on Monday 8 December and last until Friday 19.

The Unite union members repair and maintain military equipment for the Ministry of Defence (MoD). They have already struck for six days to demand an eight percent pay rise.

Ronnie Simpson, Unite convenor at DSG in Stirling, central Scotland, Told Socialist Worker, “We believe ten days is the natural escalation. The company’s contempt for negotiations has left us no other option. We’re very united, and that’s our strength.”

After years of below inflation pay deals, workers were furious at the Tories’ 1 percent public sector pay cut. Workers from different DSG sites gathered at the MoD building in London today, Thursday, as union representatives met with bosses.

Rod Thompson, convenor at Bovington in Dorset, said, “There are people at our site who have to use the food bank in Dorchester. It’s obscene, they’re trying to raise a family on £17,000 while there are people who spend more on one breakfast than we get in a week.”

Workers also fear what could be in the pipeline if the MoD succeeds in selling DSG to private defence firm Babcock. This makes the strikes even more important.

Jobs

Bovington deputy convenor Grafton Straker said, “This isn’t just for us, but the future for the youngsters. There could be a threat to jobs, and they’re not our jobs to give up—we need to make sure apprentices get a decent wage”

The action has already galvanised workers, built the union and disrupted production.

Ollie Jones, a shop steward at Donnington in Shropshire, said he was confident workers were ready for escalation.

“At our last strike rally we had one of the strikers who won at St Mungo’s Broadway. They explained how it wasn’t enough to have one or two days a month—they’d gone for a longer strike that could really hit the company.

“Now workers ask not just whether we’ll be out again but when. I had a call yesterday from another steward who told me ‘the building is electric’. People we never would have expected have been joining the union.”

The strike involves over 700 workers at sites also including Warminster in Wiltshire, Catterick in North Yorkshire, Sealand in north Wales and Colchester in Essex. Get your banners down to the picket lines and show solidarity.

Send messages of support to DSGstrike@yahoo.com

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