Rosyth workers ready for industrial action over pay


By Amanda MacMillan

SHIPYARD workers at Rosyth are gearing up for strike action – just three days after being spared the axe.

A walk-out has already been planned at the Fife yard for next week with a full strike to follow in a bitter row over pay.

But they kept quiet about the planned action until after Tuesday’s Defence Spending Review.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited the Babcock site to deliver the news in person that the two planned £5.2b aircraft carriers on the Forth and Clyde will go ahead.

That secures work at the yards for the next eight years at least.

But behind the celebrations and happy faces of the workers was a simmering feud over pay involving members from unions Unite, GMB & Ucatt which could see them down tools within days.

According to union Chief Raymond Duguid, workers at the Rosyth docks are not being treated equally in terms of pay.

He said: “We got the ballot result back two weeks ago and we sat on the result because of the decision about the carriers.

“But we now need to move forward with the action because we lose mandate by November 4th.

“We don’t want to go on strike – no-one does as you lose money.

“But it’s about fairness.”

He said 4,500 employees working at English yard Davenport have received a 5.2% pay rise as part of a two year deal and in Fife ‘white collar staff’ also received a significant increase of 4.9%.

But industrial workers based at Rosyth dockyard received only a 2.5% rise.

Now they have voted overwhelmingly to protest against what they see as a cruel disparity – with 97% in favour of industrial action short of strike and the same number 97% in favour of full strike.

Mr Duguid, chairman of the collected Industrial Unions Rosyth, said: “The strike is not to hurt the company but to get management back around the table and start discussions again.

“It’s about fairness and equality, if managers are entitled to 4.9% then so too should the workers.

“We have worked out that the industrial workers are getting a third less than their gaffers as they will get a rise of £10 but management will get £30.

“We just want the same as everybody else.

“If they can afford it for the higher paid then they can afford it for the lower.”

He revealed that the results of the ballot were actually received two weeks ago but workers waited to hear the announcements made in the Defence Review before pressing ahead with their claims.

They are required to give seven days notice of any industrial action and a  letter was sent to management via the local officer on Wednesday stating the intention to stage a two-hour walk out on 28 October.

If notice is not served then the strike will be held on 2 November.

They are now awaiting management’s response.

An overtime ban and the removal of goodwill and work to rule will also come into force on the 29 October until the feud is settled.

The company learned on Tuesday that not only were the two airplane carriers going ahead but refit work that was on the books is still heading to the yard.

Mr Duguid admitted: “Obviously we are all pleased and we are all smiling. It is good news for us, but sad and depressing to hear about the other cuts.”

Dates for the planned action were expected to be confirmed this week.

A spokeswoman for Babcock refused to comment.