Faslane workers to strike over pay


Embargoed to 0001 Thursday December 12File photo dated 18/03/13 of money as the UK downturn is finally expected to be left behind next year as the size of the economy surpasses its pre-recession peak, according to a new forecast upgrading prospects for growth. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday December 12, 2013. The prediction from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) brings forward the likely date to the third quarter of 2014. It would mark the first time that UK gross domestic product (GDP) has climbed back to the peak it reached in the first quarter of 2008. See PA story ECONOMY GDP. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Hundreds of workers at the Faslane nuclear base will go on strike today and take other forms of industrial action after rejecting a "derisory" pay offer.

Unite suspended a planned stoppage last month at the site on the Clyde in Scotland but has revived action after most of its members turned down a 2% offer.

A two hour walkout will be held from 10am at Faslane and at the Coulport naval base, followed by "staged stoppages" from tomorrow as well as a work to rule and overtime ban.

The dispute is between Unite and contractors Babcock, which the union claimed was paying "eye watering" bonuses to top directors.

Unite national officer Ian Waddell said: "Quite simply workers on the Clyde have had enough - enough of below inflation pay deals, enough of one-off pay inducements and enough of an employer that wants to impose instead of negotiating.

"We are now in the ridiculous situation where Babcock's top four directors are sharing a £7 million bonus pot and making merry with 9% increases to their six-figure salaries yet the company refuses to negotiate a basic, one year deal that helps our members match the cost-of-living.

"The disparity is beyond a joke now for workers on the Clyde who have fallen behind their industry's average pay rates following four years of real-terms pay cuts despite doing everything to help this private sector giant fulfil its business objectives.

"The chickens are coming home to roost for Babcock Marine on the Clyde, which has been well warned about the ramifications of its grossly unfair pay policies, and its workers are no longer prepared to play the part of the poor relations in this highly profitable company."

Babcock has said it was "surprised" by Unite's decision, adding: "We have engaged with our trades unions and carefully listened to their specific concerns.

"We have gone back to them with a new multi-year deal which significantly increases the consolidated pay element at their request and provides an opportunity for further reward. This means that over the last three years, including the 2013 pay deal on offer, our industrial workforce would have received total consolidated pay increases of 8% as well as one-off payments totalling £1,150, well above the UK national average pay increase during the same period.

"We believe this to be a fair and reasonable offer and are very disappointed by the decision to flatly refuse this offer and proceed with industrial action."

Peter Merriman, director and general manager of Babcock Clyde, said: "We understand the importance of this matter to our employees and are genuinely disappointed that we've failed to reach an agreement.

"We have effectively doubled our offer and in addition given our workforce the opportunity to work jointly with us exploring working patterns to increase operational efficiency and importantly improve the work life balance of our teams.

"This is a collaborative process that's worked very well within other parts of our business.

"Babcock is a successful organisation and this has enabled us to award pay increases in the 2011 and 2012 period. Added to the 2013 offer that we've made, our industrial workforce would receive an increase of 8% over the three years, as well as one off payments totalling £650.

"This is comparable with our sister sites, above the Consumer Price Index and above the average increase in UK national earnings over the period.

"Additionally, we are mindful that our teams work alongside our main customer, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), who has experienced a series of pay freezes followed by a 1% rise in 2013.

"We continue to work with the MoD to maintain the safety and security of HMNB Clyde and we thank Unite for their agreement to continue to participate in the safety-critical posts that are necessary for that.

"We remain open to exploring options to resolve this matter with our workforce, but should be clear that we have limited room to manoeuvre."

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