Qinetiq staff threaten strike over pay freeze

Qinetiq employees are being balloted for strike action after the defence firm’s decision to freeze pay.

The decision was made to freeze pay this year despite a rise in the company’s underlying operating profits from £106m in 2007 to £127m in 2008.

The UK arm of Qinetiq saw profits rise sharply by 30% in the six months to September 2008.

Staff are angry and say that the company is using the recession as an excuse to freeze their pay while senior managers will still receive large bonus payments.

Last year chief executive Graham Love received a bonus payment of over £230,000.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary at PCS union, said: “It is an absolute scandal that Qinetiq will give its senior managers huge bonus payments while offering staff absolutely nothing.”

He added: “If they want to avoid the threat of industrial action they need to quickly come back to the negotiating table.”

Qinetiq has attracted controversy since its privatisation, when senior managers such as chief executive John Chisholm saw his personal investment of £130,000 increase to £26m on flotation of the company.

“Senior executives have made millions out of the controversial privatisation of Qinetiq and enjoyed returns of up to 20,000% at the expense of the taxpayer, while using the excuse of the recession to freeze pay,” said Serwotka.

On Thursday 21 May Qinetiq will post its year end results and is expected to again record substantial profits.

A Qinetiq spokeman previously told Personnel Today: “The economic environment is very different now to the way it has been over the past few years. It is naive to think that you can continue with generous annual pay rounds when the economic conditions have shifted markedly.

“Like many other companies we are looking at the way we operate. We are entirely up-front about the fact that this is to do with our costs going forward.”

The ballot for a strike and industrial action short of a strike closes on the 29 May.

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