Unite the union has today (4 March) raised ‘major’ safety concerns following plans by Capita to reduce the number of fire fighters based at the Faslane and Coulport nuclear naval bases.

The trade union has been notified that Capita is set to reduce the specialist fire safety crew by eight positions which represents a cut of 15% at the nation’s nuclear naval bases on the Clyde. Capita won the contract in 2020 for fire response services from the Ministry of Defence. 

Unite has blasted Capita for the absence of any consultation on the detail of the new fire services model at the nuclear naval bases and the integrated management risk plan. Unite now understands that Capita is set to seek local authority support from nearby fire stations to back fill the specialist safety response, which the trade union has stated is a ‘recipe for disaster’ which could comprise safety at the nuclear naval bases.

Unite is already in an existing pay and bargaining dispute at Coulport and Faslane following ‘overwhelming’ support for strike action from its 1000-strong membership. Last week, 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. 

Debbie Hutchings, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite has major concerns over the imposed plan by Capita to reduce the fire crew at the Coulport and Faslane nuclear naval bases by eight positions. The plans to reduce the fire crew and to replace it with local authority support is a recipe for disaster. The decision by Capita appears to have been brought forward purely on a cost basis and the unrealistic expectation that the local authority can back fill these cuts, which is just not possible because specialist training is required at the nuclear naval bases. We believe these plans are worse than short sighted and in fact potentially dangerous, which is why we are asking Capita to abandon this reckless plan and get back to negotiations."