Socialist Worker

Strikes set for naval bases on the Clyde

Issue No. 2745

Faslane Naval Base

Faslane naval base (Pic: Thomas Nugent)


Workers were set to strike at the Coulport and Faslane naval bases on the Clyde from Friday this week.

Around 1,000 Unite union members voted 95 percent in support of strikes on a 65 percent turnout across the three different entities at the base.

These are Babcock Industrial, Babcock Non-Industrial and ISS Facility Services.

Stephen Deans, Unite regional coordinating officer, said, “The overwhelming support for industrial action from Unite’s membership at the Clyde naval bases should be seen as a strong signal of the frustration and genuine anger felt by the workforce.”

The strikes will be held in conjunction with a continuous ban on special call outs and a ban on all overtime.

The dispute is over pay and bargaining rights.

Pay

The “industrial” workforce has strongly rejected a pay offer of 1.1 percent for 2020.

For the non-industrial workforce, a pay settlement was imposed on Unite’s members without any involvement or consultation from the trade union.

The base on the Clyde is the navy’s headquarters in Scotland. It is the home of Britain’s nuclear weapons— submarines armed with Trident missiles. Socialists should oppose the production and maintenance of such weapons.

The vast expenditure on the machinery of mass death could pay for useful work for all those employed many times over. The union is wrong to argue the workers’ case based on bosses allegedly endangering “the country’s military power and nuclear response capabilities”.

But socialists should still be against these attacks on the workers and in favour of developing union strength to fight back.

Anti-nuclear arguments are not helped by a beaten workforce.

In a separate dispute, Unite has raised “major” safety concerns following plans by outsourcer Capita to reduce the number of firefighters based at the naval bases. The union has been notified that Capita is set to reduce the specialist fire safety crew by eight positions.

This represents a cut of 15 percent.

Capita won the contract in 2020 for fire response services from the Ministry of Defence. Unite says the company did not consult over the new arrangements.

Capita is set to seek local authority support from nearby fire stations to cover for job cuts.


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