Civil Service threatens strike over privatisation of training in Armed Forces

The threat of a strike across the Civil Service has grown with the announcement that the Metrix consortium will take on training for the Armed Forces next year.

Defence secretary Des Browne last week revealed that the consortium – which includes EDS, QinetiQ and Laing O’Rourke – was the preferred bidder for the 25-year contract.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) immediately threatened major industrial action as it believes the plans will jeopardise future defence capability and result in 2,000 redundancies.

Metrix’s contract represents the privatisation of Armed Forces training, which will now be carried out mainly from a large campus to be built in St Athan, South Wales.

Welsh politicians joined the Transport and General Workers’ Union in welcoming the announcement, saying the £14m investment would create 5,000 jobs in the Vale of Glamorgan.

But PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “While this may appear to be good news for Wales, there are serious doubts about the number of new jobs these plans, which are reliant on forcing staff to up-root and move to keep their jobs, will actually produce.

“Today’s massive privatisation will further anger dedicated staff already facing job losses and below inflation pay, making a ‘yes’ vote for national industrial action across the Civil Service increasingly likely.”

Browne insisted privatisation was the best option for national security. “Our servicemen and women deserve the best training we can offer them,” he said. “The Defence Training Review is all about making the investment needed to modernise the way we train our people.”

However, a statement from the Ministry of Defence admitted that “the possibility of some redundancies following transfer cannot be ruled out”.

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