Plans to privatise the vital Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS) have been indefinitely suspended following a PCS campaign.
After two-and-a-half years of exploring whether this vital public security function, which provides unarmed guarding services at more than 100 sites across the MOD estate in England, Scotland and Wales, should be sold off to the private sector, it has finally been decided that there would be absolutely no justification or logic to do so based on either cost or risk. This is the exact message that PCS representatives have delivered from the outset.
The MSG offers a range of services including:
- access control
- security searches
- patrolling including dog patrols
- control room management, including CCTV and alarm monitoring
- conference and event security
- first aid
- fire marshals.
It employs around 2,000 operational and support staff who are all civil servants.
PCS consistently asserted that even considering outsourcing a front of house, public sector security organisation would be foolhardy but to contemplate awarding such a sensitive MoD security contract to firms with reputations such as G4S, Serco or Mitie would have been nothing short of recklessness. Having scrutinised the financial assumptions that were initially presented, we contended that they were based on fantasy. We then voiced our concerns at the very highest level both departmentally and in parliament and we also took our campaign to the media.
There is little doubt that our efforts played a huge part in forcing the Defence Infrastructure Organisation chief executive David Mitchard to intervene last year and demand that the project was 'paused', so that an 'alternative route to market' could be considered. Following that pause, the revised financial projections were resubmitted to the appropriate scrutineers and, prior to this major announcement, PCS had never been given sight of them. The DIO chief operating officer Geoff Robson explained that the decision to now suspend the project was based, predominantly, on cost but also on quality of service. We had argued all along that this would be the case.
Our members who work for the MGS deserve great credit for standing with their union throughout this successful campaign to fight off the threat of their jobs and future being sold off at cut-price rates.
The suspension of the unarmed guarding project undoubtedly removes the risk of the MGS being privatised for the foreseeable future and that is a tremendous victory for common sense.
We strongly encourage all non-union MGS staff to join PCS immediately. Our union, as always, will be at the forefront and victories such as the one with MGS demonstrate that we can, and will, succeed.