By Lucy Ashton
INDUSTRIAL action could be on the cards at the Faslane and Coulport naval nuclear bases on the Gareloch and Loch Long after the UNITE trade union raised what it called “major” safety concerns over plans by contractor Capita to reduce the number of firefighters there.
Unite said it had been told the company was set to cut the specialist fire safety crew by eight, which they said was a 15% reduction.
Capita won the contract last year for fire response services from the Ministry of Defence.
Unite has criticised the firm for not holding any consultation on the detail of the new fire services model at the nuclear navy bases and the integrated management risk plan.
Unite is already involved in a pay and bargaining dispute at Coulport and Faslane following “overwhelming” support for strike action from its 1000-strong membership.
Last week, union members voted by 95% in support of strike action on an aggregated 65% turnout across the three entities at the bases – Babcock Industrial, Babcock Non-Industrial and ISS Facility Services.
The strike action will also be held in conjunction with a continuous call-out ban and ban on all overtime.
Debbie Hutchings, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite has major concerns over the imposed plan by Capita to reduce the fire crew at the Coulport and Faslane nuclear naval bases by eight positions. The plans to reduce the fire crew and to replace it with local authority support is a recipe for disaster.
“The decision by Capita appears to have been brought forward purely on a cost basis and the unrealistic expectation that the local authority can backfill these cuts, which is just not possible because specialist training is required at the nuclear naval bases. We believe these plans are worse than short-sighted and in fact potentially dangerous, which is why we are asking Capita to abandon this reckless plan and get back to negotiations.”
“The report’s recommendation to adjust resourcing levels was ultimately approved by [the] Ministry of Defence. This followed four successful confirmatory exercises by our on-site fire station crews. We are committed to the delivery of better fire risk outcomes for the Ministry of Defence, its personnel, and our firefighters.”
Members of the Clyde base Fire Brigade with their children on a visit to their workplace. Top: Children learning how to handle a hose.