Unite calls for moratorium on MoD firefighter privatisation plans

By agency reporter
February 2, 2018

Unite, the UK’s largest union, is calling on the Ministry of Defence to halt the privatisation of its firefighters and defence workers after Capita, one of the two bidders for the contract, issued a profit warning.

The MoD’s firefighters and defence workers are employed in both civilian and military roles and are responsible for ensuring the safety of the UK’s military bases both in the UK and abroad. There are between 1,500-2,000 workers affected by the privatisation policies.

The Firefighters and Defence workers are required to carry out their duties to protect military equipment in war zones.

The workforce provide 24 hour, seven day a week service, monitoring and protecting all the MoD’s sites, including nuclear submarine bases, airfields and ammunition and munition facilities. The buildings alone are worth in excess of £100 billion.

The two companies bidding for the work are Capita, which recently issued a profits warning which saw its shares value fall by over 40 per cent, and Serco, who were previously barred from bidding for government contracts following a Serious Fraud Office investigation which found the company had wrongly billed the government for the electronic monitoring of prisoners who were dead or behind bars.

Carillion’s collapse into liquidation on 15 January  was preceded by several profit warnings, the first of which was in July 2017.

The announcement of which company has secured the contracts is expected to be made towards the end of February or in early March and the workers are due to transfer to the successful private contractor in May or June.

Unite Assistant General Secretary Gail Cartmail said, “Following Carillion’s collapse and the profit warning issued by Capita today, the government must order a moratorium on the privatisation of the MoD firefighters contract.

“These workers undertake absolutely essential work in protecting MoD buildings, equipment and munitions and the prospect that these workers could swiftly find themselves in the same position as Carillion workers on outsourced public sector contracts, does not bear contemplating.  This is a contract which should never ever have been considered, let alone tendered.

“The primary motive of private companies is to make profits. This can only be achieved on this contract by cutting personnel, pay, workers’ conditions or reducing the level of cover for MoD sites. All of these options are entirely unacceptable.

“Rather than outsourcing essential public services the government should be bringing all its outsourced contracts back in house.”

* Unite the union http://www.unitetheunion.org/


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