Socialist Worker

Escalation can win as DSG workers strike for 10 days

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2434

Workers at Donnington confronted local MP and junior defence minister Philip Dunn at his surgery last Friday. Dunn is set to officially announce the plans to sell DSG off to private contractor Babcock in parliament this week. Bosses are under pressure to settle the dispute before it can disrupt the sale. Workers want DSG to stay public.

Workers at Donnington confronted local MP and junior defence minister Philip Dunn at his surgery last Friday. Dunn is set to officially announce the plans to sell DSG off to private contractor Babcock in parliament this week. Bosses are under pressure to settle the dispute before it can disrupt the sale. Workers want DSG to stay public. (Pic: Michael Bradley)


Defence Support Group (DSG) workers are making bosses sweat with their ten-day strike for pay, ending on Friday of this week.

DSG Unite union convenor at Bovington in Dorset, Rod Thompson, told Socialist Worker, “It’s just gone from strength to strength. There are now 777 of us on strike.” That’s 10 percent more than when the dispute started.

Bob, at the Warminster site in Wiltshire, said that dismissive comments from Ministry of Defence (MoD) bosses had only stiffened the workers’ resolve. 

DSG workers maintain and repair military vehicles and equipment for the MoD.

The dispute is at a crucial stage. Reps are set to meet on Wednesday of this week to discuss the next steps. Many workers want to escalate.

Last week they roundly rejected an offer from bosses—a £750 productivity bonus in exchange for calling the strike off.

It showed bosses’ desperation. If the bonus is real it should belong to workers already—and it’s no substitute for a consolidated pay rise.

Ronnie Simpson, Unite convenor at Stirling in central Scotland, said “I asked the guys if they wanted to continue the strike and every worker raised their hand in support.

“We need to escalate. The MoD does not know how to deal with ongoing strike action and they certainly won’t want indefinite action.”

On the picket line in Stirling

On the picket line in Stirling (Pic: Josh Brown)

Organisation

Bovington is going from strength to strength

Bovington is going from strength to strength (Pic: Tim Nicholls)

Workers at Donnington told Socialist Worker that workers’ involvement in strike organisation is crucial.

Vehicle mechanic Rob Jarvis said that getting everyone down to the picket line “keeps people together, and gives them a focus if they don’t know what to do when they’re on strike.”

Shop steward Steve Wilson said, “Everything’s been voted on in mass meetings. That’s why people have taken ownership of the dispute and delivered big picket lines.”

Lead steward Paul Eagles agreed. He said, “The other thing that’s been critical is having a vision of what’s happening next.”

Workers everywhere told Socialist Worker they were ready for more action. 

As Chris in Stirling said, “We have no choice but to carry on the fight.”

Rod said, “We’ve been shutting their sites across the country. Let’s keep up the momentum.”

Thanks to Josh Brown, Phil Jones, Tim Nicholls

Solidarity is crucial to dispute's success

The DSG strikers have been gathering support all over Britain—not least from public sector workers who can see the potential for breaking the Tories’ pay freeze.

In Bovington, donations from the Dorset Socialists and the Labour Party have paid for Christmas boxes for workers’ children.

Warminster DSG reps have been invited to speak at a meeting of Bristol council union reps.

Telford trades council held a solidarity day, donating £1,000 to the workers, distributing Christmas gifts at the Donnington picket line.

The strikers need your support. 

Their example can inspire other workers to take action. 

Rush messages of support and donations to them, and invite strikers from your nearest strike to talk at a workplace or campaign meeting.

The strikes are taking place at DSG sites across Britain—visit the picket lines at Bovington in Dorset, Catterick in North Yorkshire, Colchester in Essex, Donnington in Shropshire, Sealand in north Wales, Stirling in central Scotland and Warminster in Wiltshire.
To get in touch with the strikers contact 
dsgstrike@yahoo.com

If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

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