PCS members at Babcock Armour Centre took strike action over a three day period this week. All members were asked to take industrial action for at least one day, but many took more.
The trade dispute revolves around a pay offer that failed not only to meet the PCS national pay claim, but also failed to meet either CPI or RPI inflation indices. Members were rightly angry that this represents a pay cut in real terms, when Babcock International made pre-tax profits the previous year of over £500 million and the CEO Archie Bethel earned £1.3 million in salary and bonuses. The banner produced by PCS for the picket line spelt it out: Babcock profits up 80%, salaries down 5%.
Babcock did improve their offer after the one-day November strike to include an uplift in allowances of 11% (which only really benefited instructional officers) and an extra day’s leave each year that could be cashed in, which the company claimed was worth 0.4%. Members rejected this offer, and with no further improvements PCS triggered the three day strike.
The branch had never taken industrial action previously, but the reps and activists were not overawed by the new anti-union legislation and organised a strong, effective picket. Morale has been high and members are determined that "fat cat Babcock" should pay a decent increase. Members are well aware that on training contracts, Babcock owns no kit and their profit comes from the staff’s expertise and dedication.
PCS had produced leaflets setting out the case for an improved offer and urged UNITE and non-union members not to cover any tasks undertaken by PCS members, reminding them that a further improvement won by PCS would benefit them too. PCS also produced button badges with the slogan “Fair pay at Babcock”. These went down well with the strikers and the other Babcock employees not taking part in the action.
Acas has contacted PCS to offer assistance and PCS has indicated we are willing to talk at any time. The branch committee and activists will meet within the next few weeks to scope out the next stage of action should Babcock be unwilling to offer further improvements to their final offer.