Privatisation has not just infiltrated the NHS—it looms large in every institution in our country, even in the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
After facing an uncertain future of being sold off to the private sector next year, workers at the Defence Support Group were offered a paltry one per cent pay rise, and one that’s non-pensionable.
In response to the pay offer, the workers, who take on the vital task of maintaining, repairing and overhauling military equipment for the MoD, have decided to step up strike action next week.
The 800 Unite members will begin a four-day strike on Monday (November 17), following a previous two-day strike action in October.
Affected sites in next week’s walkout will include Bovington (Dorset), Catterick (North Yorkshire), Colchester, Donnington (Shropshire), Stirling and Warminster (Wiltshire).
Unite national officer for the MoD and government departments Mike McCartney argued that the pay offer on the table actual translates into a real terms pay cut.
“For many workers, this feels like a final act of betrayal,” he said. “The current DSG management can afford to give a decent pay rise to the workers who have made DSG such a success story in supporting our armed forces.”
McCartney emphasised the need for a decent pay rise in the wake of the uncertainty of privatisation.
“With the sale of DSG to the private sector looming, our members want to take a decent rate of pay which can be consolidated for pension purposes to their new employer,” he said.
“Feelings among our members are running high not just because of the insulting pay offer, but because of the uncertain future they face of being sold off to the private sector,” he added. “It’s time management got back around the table and negotiated a meaningful settlement.”
The strike itself is widely supported among workers throughout government. When the dispute began in October, members from Unite and others unions across the MoD and government departments sent out offers of solidarity.
Even though DSG’s sell-off to the private sector was lauded as an achievement in the coalition’s 2010 strategic defence review, the sell-off has been a troubled one, marked by repeated issues with third-party intellectual property rights.