Union partership drives up performance at DARA

The Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) has dramatically improved its
business performance through its union partnership agreement.

The organisation, formed when the Navy and RAF repair agencies merged in
1998, has managed to significantly reduce repair turnaround times since the
partnership agreement was signed four years ago.

Bernard Galton, HR director and company secretary at DARA, said the union
partnership has helped the company to move away from the Ministry of Defence’s
traditionally regimented way of working to one where individuals have much more
freedom and flexibility.

Galton, speaking at a conference last week, said: "By encouraging full
involvement and transparency, we have been able to move to self-directed team
working, which has broken down the MoD hierarchical barriers and the
industrial/non-industrial divide.

"The move has improved the quality of the work and staff job

Under the agreement signed in 1999, representatives from four unions –
including Amicus and T&G – sit on all the company’s boards.

Galton believes the partnership agreement has helped the agency, which
became independent two years ago, to provide a much-improved service for the
MoD – for example, gearbox repairs now take 12 days compared to 116 days.

Delegates at the AnUMan Conference heard that managers and union
representatives are involved in regular informal discussions, seminars and an
annual partnership conference.

The high level of transparency on all business issues between DARA and the
unions has meant the company has been able to halve its £110m operating costs
over a three-year period and cut staff numbers by over a third, from 7,100 to

In addition, no working days have been lost through industrial action and
the company has reduced the annual salary bill by £2m.

By Paul Nelson

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