Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/425/4988
Defence workers battle privatisation
A THOUSAND-strong rally of Ministry of Defence (MOD) workers from across Britain on 25 January heard trade union leaders like Mark Serwotka and Janice Godrich promise to back their fight against job losses and privatisation.
PCS, supported by all unions in the MOD, organised the day of action as part of their fighting campaign against New Labour's plans to slash 104,000 jobs from the civil service. The government say they plan to cut 20,000 of these jobs from MOD.
Although not, in the past, noted for their militancy MOD workers are being driven to industrial action by the government. PCS plan to ballot its MOD members in April in preparation for industrial action against the government's plans.
The MOD and other parts of the civil service look like being involved this year in the biggest battle against privatisation and job cuts yet seen if there is no response form New Labour.
CHRIS MORRISON, a member of PCS's NEC and a Socialist Party member who works for a privatised part of the MOD in Telford explained what has been happening.
"I work for Cap Gemini in Telford and as part of the PCS campaign against privatisation and job cuts, we got together with other unions across the town in a committee against cuts.
"Telford and the surrounding area faces the loss of 3,000 jobs alone from the MOD work. According to the council the knock-on effect would take £64 million out of the local economy. 1,800 jobs are definitely going and perhaps another 1,200 if RAF Cosford closes down.
"The MOD workers have not previously been known to join up with others in militant action but now under the leadership of the PCS they are becoming more like other parts of the union.
"The lesson of the fightback in the Department for Work and Pensions is not lost on the MOD workforce and I expect industrial action will be our next step."
Bill, an AMICUS electrician from Fleetlands in Gosport, said: "We repair helicopters and other aircraft but they want to privatise us. There will be nothing left at this rate - many workers are already leaving to work overseas, in Germany for example on the new Airbus project.
"All these skills are being lost because the government are trying to cut costs. It's nothing to do with efficiency, more to do with the profits of the private contractors."
In The Socialist 2 February 2006: