Scotland business

Unite union attacks MoD in naval base dispute

Faslane Naval Base Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Faslane base is home to the UK's fleet of Trident nuclear submarines

A trade union has expressed anger after learning military personnel could step in to carry out the duties of civilian staff taking part in industrial action at two naval bases in Scotland.

Unite members have been taking action at Faslane and Coulport since March in a dispute with employer Babcock Marine.

Unite said it had learned of the MoD plans on Wednesday.

The MoD said it was not involved in the dispute but Royal Navy staff would step in "where there is a safety issue".

The Faslane base on the Clyde is home to the UK's fleet of Trident nuclear submarines.

Unite members voted to take industrial action after the union accused Babcock of a "systematic campaign to undermine workers" in order to push through further outsourcing at the bases.

Babcock has said it "absolutely" refutes the allegations.

Talks intended to resolve the dispute were held recently at the conciliation service Acas but broke down after two days.

'Outrageous'

The union represents a range of workers at Faslane and Coulport, including cleaners, housekeepers, logistics operatives, drivers and mail staff.

It also has members in radiation monitoring and strategic weapons support roles.

Unite regional officer Stephen Dean said: "It is outrageous for the Ministry of Defence to get involved in a trade dispute in this way, and a clear attack on the democratic rights of our members.

"The MoD is misusing the nation's defence staff - ordering them in to help an employer who is attacking workers' rights."

An MoD spokesman added: "This is an issue between Babcock and their employees. Royal Navy personnel are not taking over any civilian posts but where there is a safety issue they will step in."

In a statement, Babcock said: "We support the Ministry of Defence and Royal Navy with the delivery of safe and secure operations daily at HMNB (Her Majesty's Naval Base) Clyde.

"The current dispute with Unite does not change that focus.

"We have written to Unite at a national level to reiterate our fully considered offer which addresses all of the concerns raised at the initial ACAS meeting and are continuing to work hard to find a resolution to this dispute."

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