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Strike Continues at Defence Equipment & Support (DES) in Beith

Friday, August 4, 2023

DES Beith Picket Line August 2023

 Strike Continues at Defence Equipment & Support (DES) in Beith

GMB Members at Defence Equipment & Support (DES) in Beith continue their strike for better pay.

Despite Defence Secretary Ben Wallace being urged to intervene to avert more strikes disrupting the supply of missiles to Ukraine, GMB Scotland members at the Defence Equipment & Support (DES) in Beith will continue their Industrial Action today (Friday 4 August) and Monday (7 August).

Patricia Gibson MP has written to the UK minister to support GMB Scotland workers fighting for fairness at the munitions depot in Ayrshire and demand action to settle the ongoing dispute.

Gibson, SNP MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, called for action as Ukrainian politicians and trade unions voice support for staff striking at the Defence Equipment & Support (DES) complex in Beith. She has written urging a resolution to the industrial dispute as workers mount two more days of strike action.

Non-craft workers preparing arms for shipment at the depot, part of the Ministry of Defence, will walk out again tomorrow, Friday 4 August, and Monday in their fight for the same bonus payments as colleagues assembling the munitions.

Gibson told Wallace a resolution was urgently needed to protect the supply of equipment to UK armed forces and the Ukrainian frontline.

She added: “I am sure you will agree the non-craft workers are essential and without them the depot would not function.

“The disparity in the treatment of workers at the site can only cause ongoing disruption at this extremely challenging time.

“The staff have not taken the decision to take industrial action lightly. However, they cannot accept a two-tier workplace.

“I would be grateful if you could intervene in this dispute to ensure DES management provide parity, fairness and equality for its workforce.”

DES delivers equipment and support services to the UK armed forces but staff are divided between craft workers, who assemble the weapons, and non-craft colleagues who prepare them for shipment.

Extra payments are made to managers and craft workers to help stop them leaving but the retention bonuses are not paid to non-craft colleagues earning less than £21,000 a year.

GMB Scotland says the pay gap between craft and non-craft workers has tripled to £18,000 at the depot in recent years and warns the strike, the first in the history of DES, will disrupt shipments of missiles and munitions to Ukraine.

Gibson urged the defence secretary to intervene days after Lesia Vasylenko, a high-profile Ukrainian MP, thanked the strikers for their “life-saving” work.

The Kyiv politician, who visited the UK last year to speak at party conferences, said: “I thank every one of them, support their fight for fairness and urge managers to quickly negotiate an end to this dispute and ensure their crucial work continues.”

The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) has also voiced support for the strikers and urged DES to settle the dispute.

More than 50 GMB Scotland members walked out for two days earlier this month and plan two more days of strike action on Friday and next Monday after 93% backed industrial action.

GMB Scotland Organiser Chris Kennedy said: “This is the first strike at DES and management should listen to the voices being raised in support of our members, from Scotland to Kyiv, and negotiate a settlement that treats workers with fairness and respect.”


Contact:  GMB Scotland Communications on

Notes to Editors

Ukrainians voice support for GMB Scotland strikers at munitions depot

DES Beith Picket Line August 2023