Defence specialists: too valuable to strike, MOD agrees


Defence specialists: too valuable to strike, MOD agrees

Scores of civilian specialists at the Ministry of Defence will be exempted from taking industrial action on 30 November because of their critical role in the department's operations in Afghanistan, elsewhere overseas and in the UK.

MOD and the Prospect union have agreed a list of critical posts where staff will continue to work during the day of action. The individuals concerned will be encouraged instead to donate to Prospect charities.

National secretary Steve Jary said: "These people are not the Whitehall bureaucrats of popular imagination, but skilled specialists: from engineers to intelligence analysts and from communications technicians to electronic counter-measures for IEDs.

"They are specialists on the front line helping to save the lives of soldiers. But they will all suffer as a result of the propsed changes to public sector pensions.

"It is ironic that this important work, by loyal and committed staff and who risk their own lives in supporting the UK's armed forces during operations, only comes to light in a situation like the industrial action on 30 November."

Civil servants are already playing their part in the government's debt reduction strategy, with a pay freeze, spending cuts and 80,000 job cuts. Five thousand MOD civilians are leaving the department this year and another 20,000 will go by 2015. Such swingeing cuts will inevitably affect support to front line capability.

"But, as the industrial action exemption illustrates, these people are crucial to the running of the department and give it the specialist skills it needs to be an intelligent customer and provide value for money at home and abroad," said Jary. Groups exempted include:

  • specialists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Defence Equipment and Support, Defence Support Group and the Defence Intelligence Staff based in Camp Bastion, Kabul, Kandahar and Lashkar Gah in Afghanistan
  • members at Defence Equipment and Support who are engaged on the supply of personal equipment to Afghanistan
  • Prospect members at the UK Hydrographic Office, based in Taunton, Somerset, provide 'Safety of Life at Sea' national obligations to the Royal Navy and international maritime community. This group provides navigational support during maritime incidents and includes the customer service team supporting the UKHO's world-wide digital navigational information service, both civilian and military
  • at Devonport naval base, Plymouth and Portsmouth naval base, admiralty pilot and harbour control officers will strike but will provide emergency cover and port safety and maintain nuclear facility safety for the 24-hour period of the action.