Privatised former research and intelligence MoD arm QinetiQ has announced it intends to derecognise unions from 31st March

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The specialised defence contractors QinetiQ has been accused of union-busting, after its announcement that it intends to derecognise all its trade unions from the end of next month.

The unions say the decision follows a vote by members last year to reject a disputed pay offer by the company, which is the privatised former research arm of the Ministry of Defence – whose name is famously, but falsely, thought to have been inspired by the James Bond weapons master, Q.

If it goes ahead on 31st March, the decision will make QinetiQ the sole major contractor to the Ministry of Defence which does not recognise trade unions.

It is known that a number of legal and management consultancy firms openly advertise that they specialise in helping employers resist recognition claims by trade unions or in how to use anti-union laws to de-recognise them.

The company announced in November its half year pre-tax profits rose by 45% to £74.9m.

Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer for Qinetiq said: “Over the course of the last few months the unions have engaged effectively and positively to offer possible solutions to Qinetiq.

“Despite our best efforts the decision to derecognise the unions by Qinetiq was pre-determined at the outset which is extremely disappointing and certainly does not fit with Qinetiq’s motto ‘Making tomorrow work today’.

“Most employers in a modern labour market recognise the value of trade union representation in workplaces. That is why the decision by QinetiQ to de-recognise is premature.”

The four QinetiQ unions – GMB, PCS, Prospect and Unite – are to meet on Thursday to decide how to continue to support members inside the company.

Mike Clancy, deputy general secretary of Prospect which represents 1,300 scientists and engineers in QinetiQ said: “The decision by Leo Quinn, chief executive of QinetiQ, to terminate union recognition is nothing more than crude union-busting.

“Unions in QinetiQ have always engaged constructively with the company on difficult issues such as redundancy terms and pension changes, yet are now being forcibly ejected from the company because union members voted against a controversial pay offer last year.

“It is clear that the chief executive wishes to neutralise any challenges to employment conditions allowing the company to drive through changes to established terms and conditions of employment without any union moderation or consultation”.

“QinetiQ should listen to its staff. There has been no call for de-recognition from them.”

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Unite will not take this lying down. QinetiQ workers want union recognition and they will fight to retain it. We will support our members all the way in this struggle and will pull out all the stops to ensure that QinetiQ, or any other company thinking of trying the same thing, back down.

“For our members this is vitally important as they know that without the union in their workplace, their employer will be able to dictate terms and conditions – this is clearly unacceptable. Unite will be calling a meeting of all reps to discuss how we can defend these long-standing agreements and ensure union recognition remains.”

 PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We have had constructive negotiations with QinetiQ on numerous issues over the years so we’re astounded by this unilateral decision to start a process of de-recognition.
“We are meeting senior managers on Thursday and will attend with a positive attitude and a will to work with them in future, but if QinetiQ does take this course of action, we will oppose it vigorously and would not rule out industrial action.”
The four unions say they will raise the issue with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and MPs on the House of Commons Defence Select Committee.

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