Socialist Worker

'We are stronger after our dispute at DSG'

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2441

DSG picket line at Donnington

DSG picket line at Donnington (Pic: Martin James)


Defence Support Group (DSG) workers have accepted an improved pay offer. 

They secured a £1,250 one-off payment on top of a 1 percent rise after striking for 16 days last year.

The Unite union members voted to accept the deal by 91 percent in a ballot that ended on Thursday of last week. Unite recommended they accept the deal.

Brett Davis, Unite convenor at DSG Donnington, told Socialist Worker, “People are upbeat. We wouldn’t have got this if we hadn’t fought. 

“We’ve set the bar higher for anyone fighting over pay in the public sector.”

The offer falls short of a consolidated pay rise. Workers entered the dispute demanding 8 percent. Strikes escalated up to the end of last year. But there were debates about where to go next as the planned sale of DSG to private firm Babcock loomed closer.

Shop steward Ollie Jones said, “We’d started with a strategy of always calling strikes in advance. But we couldn’t win that at the reps’ combine. Momentum was lost very quickly after that.

Argument

“It would have helped if there had been organised socialists on every site to put the argument. Strike pay was also a double-edged sword. It helped get people out, but it put a lot of control in the hands of union officials.”

Brett said, “Those of us who were up for more action were slightly held back by trying to get unity with everyone. The picket lines were magnificent, in numbers and enthusiasm. 

“We could have used that to build protests and keep the pressure up.”

The dispute has strengthened workers’ organisation. The union has gained around 50 new members at Donnington alone.

Brett said, “I’d like to thank everyone who sent messages of support. And the fantastic coverage in Socialist Worker helped workers feel like part of something bigger.

“One worker told me, ‘Let’s take this, put it in the bank, and kick off again when Babcock take over. 

“I think that’s where a lot of people have come from. We’ve shown that action gets results.”


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