6 September 2011 – Engineers at Wattisham airbase in Suffolk, servicing Apache helicopters in Afghanistan, are set to take industrial action tomorrow (Wednesday 7 September) in their pay differential dispute that means that many are about Â£3,000-a-year worse off.
Unite, which represents more than 100 employees working for Morson Wynnwith at Wattisham, was scheduled to hold last minute talks this afternoon (Tuesday 6 September) in a bid to resolve the dispute.
However, the company declined to reopen negotiations with the stewards, despite the senior management team being on site and Unite representatives physically meeting with the managers, briefly, in one of the hangars.
Unite members at Wattisham – Prince Harryâ€™s home base – will institute an overtime ban, work-to-rule and withdraw goodwill for an indefinite period from 6.00am tomorrow.
This follows two industrial action ballots last month giving a clear mandate for industrial action, including possible strike action. In addition, Unite will also be issuing notice to commence a strike from later this month.
The crux of the dispute is that the Wattisham staff receive about Â£3,000 less a year than their counterparts at the firmâ€™s Middle Wallop site in Hampshire and managementâ€™s failure to keep its promise to more closely align pay.
Unite regional officer Mark Robinson said: â€Following a meeting of our members, there was a clear feeling of anger and frustration regarding the companyâ€™s position. Our members want to show Morson Wynnwith that the company should honour the commitments made last year.
â€Our members are largely ex-military personnel and do not take these steps lightly. The last thing our members want is to affect the maintenance of the Apache helicopters, but they have been boxed into a corner by an intransigent management.
â€We are absolutely astonished that, despite the company’s senior management team and myself being on site today, they declined the union’s offer of a meeting which could have prevented tomorrow’s action taking place and the possibility of strike action later this month.â€
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