'Plane wrong' pay disparity

RAF Leeming strikes intensify over Babcock’s £5,000 pay disparity

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Strike action by Babcock Aerospace workers at RAF Leeming, near Northallerton in North Yorkshire, over a ‘plane wrong’ £5,000 pay disparity will increase in length and frequency until the dispute is settled, Unite said today (February 25).

More than 50 Babcock workers, who provide operational and engineering services for aircraft at RAF Leeming, including the Hawk trainer aircraft, have been on strike since January .

The Unite members voted in favour of strike action after being refused shift pay, even though their colleagues at RAF Valley in Wales receive it for performing the same duties.

The difference in take home wages between those who receive shift pay and those who do not amounts to around £5,000 a year.

Since the strikes began, more Babcock staff have joined Unite, swelling the number of picketing workers by around 30 per cent.

A fresh wave of strike action will take place between 2 March and 26 March, with individual actions being escalated to 72-hour periods.

The workers will be holding socially distanced picket lines outside the main entrance to RAF Leeming during the strikes.

Unite regional officer Neil Howells said, “Babcock’s insistence that its RAF Leeming staff receive £5,000 a year less than their colleagues elsewhere is just ‘plane wrong’. Our members do not want to continue striking, but it is that or be treated as second-class employees.

“Babcock knows this dispute is only going to get worse, as demonstrated by the fact that more and more of its RAF Leeming staff are joining the union and taking a stand against the company’s unfair pay policies,” he added.

“Unite calls on Babcock to stop the disruption to RAF Leeming operations by presenting an acceptable offer on shift pay.

“We also urge chancellor Rishi Sunak to stand up for these workers, many of whom are his constituents, and intervene with Babcock on their behalf.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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