Fourteen hundred specialist engineers, mangers and administration staff in the Prospect union walked out or drove out halfway through their shifts from all five of the yard’s gates.
At the main Camel’s Head Gate they were greeted by Prospect General Secretary Paul Noon and members of their Branch Council. Noon said:
"Members have given tremendous support to the call for action. This is a clear demonstration of the anger of members and the company now needs to heed that message.
"The workforce have shown they will not put up with a shoddy system of performance pay that denies satisfactory performers the chance of ever getting the rate for the job."
Del Northcott, Prospect Branch Secretary at Devonport, said DML and Babcock, the yard’s new owners, could now see how unhappy staff were at the performance pay plans. "The way staff have been treated is plain wrong and must change. A lot of pressure was put on members not to come out. The fact they did reflects a complete loss of confidence in management."
The action by Prospect members, who supervise industrial workers, halted all work at the yard on ships, submarines, yachts and trains. Staff in the finance, pension and payroll departments also joined in. "Devonport was like a ghost town today," added Northcott.
The strike is the first at the yard since privatisation. It follows months of negotiations after Devonport Management Limited’s decision to impose a new pay structure at the yard which reserves pay progression payments solely for good or excellent performers. The previous progression system was unilaterally terminated by the company in 2004.