Firm branded ‘disgusting’ and accused of bullying staff amid MoD contract disputes

Unite members were joined by the Gosport Labour Party for the protest       Picture: David George.
Unite members were joined by the Gosport Labour Party for the protest Picture: David George.
Two members of the Portsmouth and Medway Clearance Diving Team at HMS Vernon with the 250lb German bomb which was dredged up at Albert Johnson Quay. On the left LS(D) M O'Learey with some of the high explosive content of the bomb and AB C Carr with the fuse

THIS WEEK IN 1981: Dredger brings up unexploded bomb

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STAFF members at MoD institutions are being squeezed for the sake of turning a company profit, according to protesters.

People took to Gosport High Street yesterday to speak out against the treatment of staff members at Fort Blockhouse, HMS Sultan, HMS Collingwood and Whale Island, who are having their contracts cut to 48 weeks of work.

The workers are employed by ESS, which is part of Compass Group – and have a variety of jobs from cleaners to mess hands.

Since the change of the contract, workers have been protesting against their treatment – with a demonstration outside Fort Blockhouse in November last year.

Richard White, regional manager at trade union Unite, said: ‘Since the protest in November staff members have been bullied by managers, who are unaffected by the new contracts.

‘It is disgusting how the staff members are being treated with complete contempt, while the CEO got more than £5m last year – that is why we are getting involved.

‘The people we have spoken to today are starting to see things for what they are, especially after everything that has happened with Carillion recently.

‘What we want is for the old contract to be reinstated and for ESS to sit down with us to discuss a way forward.

‘Until then we will continue with these protests to show that we won’t stand for it.’

Unite was joined in the high street by members of the Gosport Labour Party.

Party member Alan Durrant said: ‘It is important that we take a stand against companies like ESS and Carillion who treat their staff members like this.

‘They are seeking to make a profit at the expense of the workers, and people should remember that this all at the expense of the taxpayers – their money is going into the pockets of the fat cats in charge.

‘I would like the company to admit that they have made a mistake and that they shouldn’t be punishing their lowest paid workers.

‘The people we have spoken to today have all signed our petition, which is very encouraging indeed.’

A spokesman from ESS said: ‘We are aware of this planned protest. We continually review the working patterns of our colleagues to ensure they meet the evolving needs of our customers and clients and the changes we have implemented are in line with this.

‘We remain committed to having an open and constructive dialogue with our colleagues.’