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Gurkhas 4 Days Strikes

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ex-Gurkha Soldiers Employed By Serco Training Army Recruits To Strike  For Four Days Over Job Losses In September In Breach Of Agreement

The MOD should step in to insist that Serco offers proper employment contracts to the workers who are responsible for training the next generation of our army says GMB

Ex Gurkha soldiers GMB members employed to train army recruits for the past seven years will strike for four days in a dispute over job losses and zero hours contracts.

There will be strike action on 29th & 30th August and 3rd & 4th September 2013. Last ditch talks on Monday 19th August made no progress to resolve the dispute.

GMB is still working out where the picket lines will be – but pickets lines are likely at Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, in Hampshire and in London.

There was a 95% vote in favour of strike action by these GMB members. They are due to be made redundant on 6th September 2013 after seven years training army recruits. Their work will be parcelled out to sub-contractors and others on zero hours contracts.

The vast majority of these ex Gurkhas live in Ashford and Folkestone in Kent, some live in Aldershot and Farnborough and a few live in and around London.

In January 2012 Serco won a contract, worth approximately £55m, with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to deliver the Contemporary Operating Environment Force (COEFOR) training and support. Serco started work on this MOD contract in April 2012 and the contact is expected to run to 2014 and beyond. The GMB members were then TUPE transferred from G4S who employed them on this work for six years before that.

When training new army recruits these members work at various Army Camps mainly in the UK, occasionally overseas in Germany, Cyprus and other locations and do not have fixed workplaces locations.

Serco is going ahead to cut up to 100 jobs from 6th September 2013. This is in breach of a guarantee in relation to jobs and hours of work secured by GMB in December 2012 as part of the resolution to a previous dispute. Then the company proposed job losses and changing from guaranteed hours to zero hours contracts.

On 7th August these GMB members presented a petition to the Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond calling for an end to casualization of this important defence work.

See report at http://www.gmb-southern.org.uk/pictures-and-video-from-gurkha-demonstration-at-mod/

Ross Murdoch, GMB Organiser, said “Since Serco took over from G4S in April 2012 it has sought to cut hours, cut jobs, cut pay and sub-contract out the work to firms offering zero hours contracts.

Contrary to Serco comments made yesterday (20th August), the employer has sought to move the workforce onto zero hours contracts. The conclusion our members drew from these tactics is that the primary aim has always been to maximise profit when it should have been on the quality of training to our soldiers.

Previously Serco sought to make the whole workforce redundant and offer re-engagement on zero hours contracts. This was resisted by the GMB. Again contrary to Serco comments made yesterday, at no time has GMB ever requested zero hours contracts for their members. In fact the company were informed in no uncertain terms that it is GMB policy to actively oppose such contracts.

As ex-soldiers it has been a very tough decision for our member's within the Gurkha community to take strike action that could impact on soldiers training. However, they feel they no longer have any choice on the matter, a decision taken by 95% of them.  GMB is appalled at quotes attributed to the MOD yesterday (20 August) in the media that it is up to Serco how they fulfil the contract to train our armed forces. Whoever in MOD made this comment should be severely dealt with.

GMB believes the previous service given to this nation by the ex soldiers deserves better treatment than this and that the MOD should step in to insist that Serco offers proper employment contracts to the workers who are responsible for training the next generation of our army.

GMB will also ask MPs and MEPs to launch an investigation into the employment practices of Serco when working of public sector contracts so as to arrive at minimum labour standards on all these contracts.”

Ends

Contact: Ross Murdoch, GMB Organiser on 07796 263626 or 01489 578665 or Charles Harrity 07977 518 042 or GMB Press Office: 07921 289880 or Anne Chandler 01489 578665 and ber is 07712 677592

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