Contractors working on UK’s Type 26 frigates set for strike action

Unite, Scotland’s leading trade union, has revealed that over 30 members contracted to work on the new type 26 Frigate on the Clyde are set for strike action in the new year.

BAE Systems

Unite members involved in the pay dispute are employed by CBL Cable Contractors based at the BAE Systems Govan and Scotstoun shipyards on the Clyde. The workers include electricians, laborers and cable hands.

The strike action will occur over multiple days starting on 10 January and ending 27 March 2024. In November, the CBL Cable workers indicated their anger over the pay dispute by emphatically backing strike action by 100 per cent on an 88 per cent turnout.

The contractors are demanding to be paid the BAE Systems yard rate, or an additional £1 per hour on top of the current rates of pay. The dispute also involves travel-related payments which Unite’s members are due as the Clyde shipyards falls under the scope of the Joint Industry Board Agreement. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The CBL Cable workers are fully entitled to equal treatment at the Govan and Scotstoun yards. The company should stop paying lip service to the national agreement and immediately start paying the rate. Our members have their union’s full support in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The Joint Industry Board Agreement sets the standards for employment, grading and apprentice training in the electrical contracting industry. This includes travel time and the use of a personal vehicle to travel to work which entitles workers to a mileage allowance.

Stevie Dillon, Unite regional coordinator, added: “CBL Cable workers are fully prepared to go on strike to get the ‘shipyard rate’. They shouldn’t need to go on strike to get what they are owed, but make no mistake, they are fully prepared to fight for what they should be automatically getting. We would urge CBL Cable Contractors and BAE Systems to get back round the table to resolve this dispute before it further escalates.”

The UK Ministry of Defence awarded a £4.2 billion contract to BAE Systems in November 2022 to manufacture the next five Cit-class Type 26 frigates for the Royal Navy in Glasgow. The contract is estimated to sustain more than 4,000 jobs across BAE Systems and the wider UK maritime supply chain. 

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Each of the Type 26 units will be equipped with a range of advanced capabilities including the Sea Ceptor missile defense system, a 5-inch medium caliber gun, flexible mission bay, Artisan 997 Medium Range Radar and towed array sonar. Moreover, they will be armed with the future cruise/anti-ship weapon (FC/ASW).

The vessels are designed or anti-submarine warfare and high-intensity air defence, but can adapt its role quickly to transport high volumes of humanitarian aid and house medical facilities.