Strike action by Babcock Aerospace workers at RAF Leeming, near Northallerton in North Yorkshire, over a £5,000 pay disparity will continue until the end of February, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Thursday 28 January).

Around 50 Babcock workers, who provide operational and engineering services for aircraft at RAF Leeming, including the Hawk trainer aircraft, last week began three weeks of discontinuous strike action as well as a continuous overtime ban. 

Unite said of the fresh wave of strike action: “the disruption to training flight schedules will continue until the end of February”. The workers will be holding socially distanced picket lines outside the main entrance to RAF Leeming during the strikes (see notes to editors for strike times and dates). 

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. 

Unite regional officer Neil Howells said: “Babcock needs to understand that this issue isn’t going away. Our members, many of who served in the armed forces, are fed up to the back teeth of being treated like second-class employees. It is unacceptable that Babcock staff at RAF Leeming are paid up to £5,000 pound a year less than colleagues at RAF Valley, despite performing the same safety critical duties for the air force.

“Our members are very proud of the work they do at RAF Leeming and the last thing they want to do is go on the strike. But they are determined to stay the course until Babcock rights this wrong. Unfortunately, Babcock’s refusal to meaningfully engage over this issue mean the strikes, and the disruption to training flight schedules, will continue until the end of February. 

“The Ministry of Defence and the RAF will not be happy that Babcock is causing disruption to RAF Leeming because of its refusal to pay the workforce fairly. Unite urges the MoD to pressure Babcock to return to negotiations with the union and table an offer our members can accept. Unite is more than willing to sit down with Babcock and find a resolution so that further strikes can be avoided.”


Notes to editors:  
Babcock Aerospace staff at RAF Leeming will take discontinuous strike action over the following dates:

02 February 2021 commencing at 07.00 hrs to 15.30 hrs on 02 February 2021 
03 February 2021 commencing at 15.00 hrs to 23.15 hrs on 03 February 2021

A fresh round of discontinuous strike action will begin on:

10 February at 07.00 hrs and continuing each day up to 12 February, when the action will conclude at 07:00 hrs    

17 February at 07.00 hrs and continuing each day up to 19 February, when the action will conclude at 07:00 hrs   

23 February at 07.00 hrs and continuing each day up to 25 February, when the action will conclude at 07:00 hrs
During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.