Emergency first responders working at Airbus’ Filton site will go on strike over an ultimatum by their employer, Securitas, to either be made redundant or to accept new contracts that will see their pay reduced by up to £6,000. 

The 10 Unite members, who voted unanimously in favour of December strike action, have been told that if they do not accept the changes, which also include reductions to holidays and sick pay, they will lose their jobs.

Securitas has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the decision and says Airbus supports the plans to dissolve Filton’s first responder unit, which provides emergency cover on site, and incorporate it into the security team. 

In response, the union pointed to the company’s failed attempts to disband the unit four years ago and said that Securitas is using the pandemic as an ‘excuse’.

The strike action will disrupt Airbus’ Filton operations, as well as those of GKN, by interrupting safety procedures. 

The first strike will take place on 30 November from 0600hrs and end on 4 December at 1800hrs. A second round of strike action will begin at 0600hrs on 14 December and end at 1800hrs on 17 December.   

Unite regional officer Matt Allen said: “Airbus Filton’s first responder unit is trained to provide critical first response aid and other assistance during emergencies. It is obvious to anyone that first responders are not security guards and mixing the two roles could have negative implications for the site's health and safety arrangements. It is no exaggeration to say that these people have saved lives in recent years due to the speed of their response to accidents on site.

“For a multibillion-pound company like Securitas to try and pretend otherwise, and behave in such a money-grubbing manner, is risible and wrong. Similarly, Securitas’ citing of the pandemic as a reason to cut its first responders is just an excuse – leaving our members with no choice but to strike. 

“The responsibility for the disruption these strikes will cause to both Airbus and GKN sits solely with Securitas and its long-term ambitions to save money by classifying the site’s first responders as something else entirely. There is still time for Securitas to avoid industrial action but first it must halt these brutal attacks on staff wages. We would also ask that Airbus look at the actions of Securitas and consider bringing the unit back in-house when the contract comes up for renewal early next year.”

ENDS

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.