Naval vessels using the Devonport dockyard in Plymouth face months of weekend refuelling chaos in a dispute over impossible rosters.

Naval vessels

Barge crew workers involved in the dispute, are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union. They are responsible for the refuelling of all naval ships which use the dockyard and are employed by outsourcing giant, Serco.

Under the roster system, the workforce are not told whether they will be working at the weekend until Friday afternoon. This has destroyed the workers’ work/life balance and makes it impossible for them to arrange family life.  Along the coast at Portsmouth’s naval base, Serco provides crew doing a similar job, with weekend work agreed on a voluntary basis.

Serco ashamed

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Serco should be totally ashamed of introducing an impossible roster which means workers don’t know if they are coming or going and have no work/life balance. Such Victorian-style working practices are shameful in the 21st century.

 “Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and always fights for the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. Our members employed by Serco at Devonport have the union’s unfailing support in their fight for fairness and decency.”

Extensive strikes

The workers will begin strike action today (Friday 10 February) at 19:00 and will not return to work until Monday 13 February at 06:59. They will strike at the same time ever weekend throughout the coming months, with the final strike action scheduled to take place from Friday 28 April until Monday 1 May.

In addition the workers will be on strike every weekday evening between 19:00 to 06:59 from Monday 13 February until Friday 4 May.

Devonport chaos

Unite regional secretary Mark Richards: “The strike action is going to cause chaos at Devonport with naval vessels being unable to refuel but this dispute is entirely of Serco’s own making. It has stubbornly refused to consider proposals which would end the misery our members are experiencing.”

“Serco operates the same contract down the coast at Portsmouth where workers are treated fairly, it defies belief that it can’t do the same at Plymouth.”

This is a longstanding dispute and the workers previously took industrial action on the same issue last year.


Notes to editors

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.