Defence giant Babcock’s suitability as a Ministry of Defence (MoD) contractor is being called into question following a breakdown in industrial relations with staff at a number of military bases, Unite, said today (Wednesday 10 March).
Strike action by Babcock staff is currently occurring at RAF Leeming, in North Yorkshire, while strikes are due to begin this week at the Coulport and Faslane naval bases on the Clyde. 
Unite raised concerns that the disputes have all begun within the first six months of Babcock CEO David Lockwood taking up the role and called on him to personally intervene to resolve them. 
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 over a £5,000 shift pay disparity
Strikes have also spread to Royal Navy bases on the Clyde, with more than 1,000 workers due to begin walks out in a dispute over pay and bargaining rights on 12 March. 
Unite lead officer for the defence sector, Caren Evans, said: “The recent breakdowns in industrial relations between Babcock management and staff at major military bases, including a nuclear base, will naturally raise questions about the company’s suitability as an MoD contractor. 
“These disputes have occurred in the first months of David Lockwood’s tenure as Babcock’s chief executive. Ultimately it is he who must take responsibility for the crumbling workforce relations across multiple parts of the business and the disruption it is causing to military operations.  
“Mr Lockwood’s staff, as well as the MoD and the Armed Forces, must be hoping the industrial unrest will be a temporary bump in the road and not a long-term aspect of his time in leadership at Babcock. 
“Unite calls on Mr Lockwood to personally intervene in these disputes to find a settlement our members can accept. He must justify his £800,000 basic salary and generous benefits, much of which comes from public funds, by showing that there is more to his management repertoire than boosting short term profits by driving down staff pay and T&Cs.” 
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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.