Coalition government intends to sell off DSG as part of the Strategic Defence Review

Tim Lezard

Unite Theobalds Rd logoUnite has accused the Armed Forces Minister of hypocrisy ahead of a medals ceremony for civilian defence workers whose jobs are under threat.

Philip Dunne, the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, is due to visit a site in Shropshire of the Defence Support Group to hand out medals to workers who have served at the main UK military base in Afghanistan, Camp Bastion.

The DSG is the maintenance and repair service for armed forces’ military equipment, including rifles, encrypted communications systems and battle-damaged vehicles.

The Coalition government intends to sell off the service during 2014/2015 as part of the Strategic Defence Review, in a move which Unite says will undermine a vital service supporting front line troops.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “It’s totally hypocritical of Philip Dunne to turn up and give medals to DSG staff, at the same time he is planning to sell their jobs from under them.

“This service plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the armed forces are as safe as possible when they go into dangerous situations; to end this arrangement would be disastrous.

“The dedicated services these workers offer could not be replicated by the private sector.

“When the forces are required to move quickly – as was the case with Mali – DSG are able to drop everything and concentrate on getting their kit ready.  Private contractors would simply not be able to offer this level of dedication.”

The DSG employs 2,800 people at sites in Stirling, Colchester and Bovington in Dorset, as well as the Donnington site where today’s ceremony is due to take place.

Says Len McCluskey: “We saw how armed forces had to clear up after the G4S Olympics scandal.  Why has the government not learned the lessons of that fiasco?

“DSG is currently saving the MoD millions of pounds a year, so there is no business or operational case for the proposed sell-off.

“Workers are deeply worried about the future of their jobs and the potential impact on their families.  But there are also real concerns both about the ‘value for money’ of the DSG sale and the health and safety impacts.  The sale itself has been shrouded in secrecy, so we are calling on the government to urgently publish all of the documents related to the sale.

“The public, workers, parliamentarians and front line troops need to know the full potential impact of the sale on such a vital service.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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