Tim Lezard reports from the picket line as the ten-day Defence Support Group strike enters its second day
Unite members working for the Defence Support Group are defiant as they begin the second of their ten-day strike action over pay and privatisation.
More than 800 workers, who repair and maintain military equipment, believe they are being offered only a 1% pay rise as the government attempts to make the organisation more attractive to bidders during the privatisation process.
They are taking action over all over the UK, with USi News UK visiting the picket lines yesterday at Warminster in Wiltshire.
Unite rep Barry Pow said: “We’ve been offered a 1% pay increase, after two years of 0%. This is the second year of a 1% cap, we’ve had our pensions reduced, we’ve had to work longer for our pensions. Everything that we joined the civil service for has been eroded away.
“We’ve got to the stage now where this company is being sold. By next April we will be privatised and we want something solid to take with us into the new company. We’ve worked very hard, we’ve looked after our soldiers, we’ve had people based in Bastion looking after the vehicles out there, and what thanks do you get? All you get is a 1% increase. And 1% of nothing is nothing.”
We’ve worked very hard, we’ve looked after our soldiers … and what thanks do we get?
He says privatisation will not provide value for money for the military, saying: “At the moment, if the customer says ‘We want this many vehicles’, we bend over backwards to get them. A new company won’t do that. All they’ll be interested in is their shareholder’s money. It’s going to cost the Army a lot more money to get the same vehicles out. It will reduce the vehicles they have ready when they want them.”
He is defiant, and confident the strike will last the whole ten days if required.
“I know we can,” he said. “The union is backing us. We’ve had lots of backing from all over the country. We will see it through because the mood on picket line is very good, very positive. Some of the management membership have been told they’re not allowed to come out, but I’ve got three quarters of my members out so we’ve done very, very well here.”
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