‘It shouldn’t be like this’

Defence workers in pay strike

Reading time: 4 min

Unite members in Deeside, North Wales, employed by DE&S DECA, formerly known as the Defence Electronics and Components Agency, are currently out on strike in a dispute over pay.

Following over a decade of extremely low pay increases, workers voted overwhelmingly to support strike action and began a series of 24 hour strikes in October 2023.

Speaking to UNITElive from the picket line, Unite member Kevin*, expressed members’ frustrations with stagnating wages which led to this period of strike action.

“It’s been a long road to get here. We’ve had over a decade of complaints from members about pay. Thanks to the UK government’s pay restraints, we’ve fallen way behind the cost of living. We’ve never been well paid here, but we’re now well underpaid here.”

Over the last decade, civil servants have been hit with pay restraints and pay freezes, leaving wages to stagnate and fall below the rate of inflation and the cost of living.

Kevin explained workers at DE&S DECA are part of the 3 per cent of the UK that now need to use food banks to survive.

“People are having second jobs just to exist, they’re going to foodbanks. These are civil servants, it shouldn’t be like this,” he said.

Workers at DE&S DECA, which is owned by the MOD, are responsible for maintaining equipment on some of the UK’s most well-known military aircrafts such as the F35 jet and the Chinook helicopter.

Kevin has expressed how members feel their work is not being valued.

“We’re supporting the armed forces, our country relies on these guys here, supporting the aircrafts and other military equipment and we’re not being rewarded for it,” he explained.

“Our management bring around very welcome visitors to show them what we do, they are very proud, they tell us of what they see, but we’re not being recognised financially. Warm words don’t pay the bills.”

Since strike action began in October, the employer has made no effort to negotiate or resolve the dispute.

Kevin says that with Unite membership numbers increasing this dispute will not be going away any time soon and calls for the employer to return to negotiations.

“Non-members are looking at what we’re doing here and saying that they want to be part of it. Our numbers are increasing, the size of the picket line is increasing every day. This isn’t going away.

“When the company is ready to talk, they can easily find us. Our door is always open.”

*Member’s name changed for privacy

By Paul Clarke