The unions were informed on 21 February that they would no longer be recognised for collective bargaining within the company from 31 March.
Prospect national secretary David Luxton said: “It has now emerged that QinetiQ hired the City-based public relations company, Maitland, which employs consultants who previously worked for David Cameron and various Conservative party think tanks, to develop its alternative ‘Employee Engagement Group’ to replace the role of trade unions.”
The four unions: Prospect, GMB, PCS and Unite met QinetiQ today (Thursday) but the company refused to confirm the remit of the private consultants it had used for its union-busting plans and would not confirm how much money it had spent on the consultants.
Unions have accused the company of misleading the workforce into believing that there was genuine consultation on union recognition, when in fact it had already hired consultants to develop detailed plans to replace the trade unions with a non-union forum that will not be allowed to negotiate with the company.
The company also refused to confirm whether it was now planning to drive through closure of the company pension scheme following union de-recognition.
QinetiQ did confirm that the new Employee Engagement Group would not be able to negotiate, and that changes to terms and conditions proposed by the company after 1 April would require individuals to sign their acceptance, with no ballot or opportunity to negotiate.
Unions are stepping up their campaign against de-recognition with a meeting of MPs in the House of Commons on Monday, 27 February. The unions have highlighted to MPs that the decision to remove the right of QinetiQ employees to be collectively represented by trade unions was taken by chief executive Leo Quinn, following a ballot of union members last summer that rejected a non-consolidated bonus in lieu of a pay rise.
Leo Quinn was paid £1.3 million last year, made up of £580,000 plus a matching bonus of £580,000, plus payment in lieu of pension of £145,000 and other benefits worth £22,156.