Unite the union has today (27 February) announced that its membership at the Coulport and Faslane naval bases on the Clyde are set to take part in rolling industrial action following ‘overwhelming’ support from its 1000-strong membership. 

Unite members voted by 95% in support of strike action on an aggregated 65% turnout across the three different entities at the bases (Babcock Industrial, Babcock Non-Industrial and ISS Facility Services). The strike action will also be held in conjunction with a continuous call out ban and ban on all overtime. The rolling industrial action is set to begin every day from 12 March at 10 a.m.

The resounding support for industrial action stems from a dispute over pay and bargaining rights with Babcock Marine. The 'industrial' workforce has rejected a pay offer of 1.1 % for 2020. For 2021 and 2022, the offer was based on the consumer price index plus 0.5%. At the non-industrial side, a pay settlement was imposed on Unite’s members without any involvement or consultation from the trade union (types of roles carried out by the different entities in the Notes to Editor section).
The nation’s leading defence sector trade union has raised repeated concerns over the looming outcome of the Ministry of Defence’s Future Maritime Support Programme (FMSP). Unite has warned that splitting national security contracts into smaller work packages endangers the country’s military power and nuclear response capabilities. The trade union has also criticised Babcock Marine management for refusing to engage with Unite on the future shape of the bases following the contract decision, which is expected to be decided upon in April 2021. The contracts are anticipated to run until March 2026. 

It is estimated that the work from the FMSP will be worth between £175-£200M for the Clyde bases. The figure is based on the Ministry of Defence stating that the FMSP scheme is projected to deliver up to a 30 per cent saving from the previous Maritime Support Delivery Framework, which had a 5-year operating figure of £250M on the Clyde.
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. Until this point, Babcock Marine have refused to meaningfully engage with us on pay and the future workplace relations at the bases following the outcome of the Ministry of Defence’s Future Maritime Support Programme.”

“Unless Babcock Marine management get back round the negotiating table and start to behave responsibly then a wave of industrial action is set to strike the bases from the middle of March. This is at a time when contracts worth up to £200m will be decided upon. This situation is not irretrievable or inevitable but a change is solely dependent upon the company meaningfully engaging with Unite, and we hope they take up this final opportunity before action starts.”