Royal Navy’s Type 31 frigate could be ‘significantly delayed’

Defence giant Babcock is in talks with five other countries over selling them basic versions of the Royal Navy’s new Type 31 frigate.

The Royal Navy could see delivery of its Type 31 frigates significantly delayed, a union has warned, as workers at a Scottish yard are poised to down tools for weeks in their battle for higher pay.

Around 100 workers at the Rosyth yard employed by contractor Kaefer are set to strike after overwhelmingly supporting industrial action.

Bob MacGregor, Unite’s regional industrial officer, warned workers were “prepared to take 12 weeks all-out strike action to get a decent wage rise”.

The union claimed it would threaten progress on the £1.25bn frigate contract at the Babcock-owned yard in Fife.

Some 98.4 per cent of workers backed strike action, the union said on Friday.

After they announced their plans to strike, workers were offered a below inflation pay rise of 7.2 per cent, which Unite said had been rejected by workers.

Mr MacGregor said “Kaefer just simply doesn’t get it” and claimed that “the company first refused to make any offer for months, and then they panicked following the strike vote”.

“Kaefer in turn are blaming Babcock who own the yard for this situation but it’s a mess they have jointly created.

“It’s a really shoddy way of managing industrial relations at Rosyth.

“The imminent strike action will have a knock-on effect for the Type 31 contract, and it will undoubtedly lead to significant delays.”

What are Type 31 frigates?

The Royal Navy has ordered five Type 31 frigates, which are known as the Inspiration class.

HMS Venturer is the first set to be built, followed by Active, Formidable, Bulldog and Campbeltown.

When delivered, the 139m long vessels will carry 107 crew.

The workers set to strike include painters, cleaners, scaffolders and support service staff, and the union said they will down tools between April 17 and July 10.

What have the firms said?

Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, said the members were “determined to secure a fair pay deal”.

“Kaefer dragged their feet and then made an unacceptable offer following our members’ emphatic decision to vote for strike action,” she said.

A Babcock spokesman said: “We are aware of the situation between Kaefer and their Unite members and will work with our sub-contractor to mitigate any impacts to our Rosyth operations.”

A spokesman for Kaefer said: “We continue to support constructive dialogue between Unite and Kaefer to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. The safety of our teams remains paramount and will not be affected by any potential industrial action.”

By Dan Barker, PA Scotland


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