Fears over private security at bases
Union says Tesco on a Monday, nuclear subs the next day
Security concerns have been raised after plans were revealed to privatise the Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS) — affecting 400 staff at Faslane and Coulport.
The MoD has outlined proposals to sell off thousands of MGS jobs in a bid, which it is understood will save £18million over five years.
Defence chiefs are considering attracting bids from private security firms, such as G4S and Mitie, to run the service which currently employs 2100 civilian staff across the UK.
But union Public and Commercial Services (PCS) has launched a campaign to try and overturn the move— dubbing it “extremely dangerous”.
They say any dilution of the crucial service could cause serious security lapses at the two Royal Navy nuclear sites.
A spokesman said: “No one wants to see someone guarding Tesco on a Monday and nuclear subs on a Tuesday.
“These sites need a dedicated and professional guarding service and many of our MGS members have previous military experience and provide ‘defence eyes’.
“The simple question is, why put the safety of these sites at risk for the savings on offer?”
The union say the move is part of the UK Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review measures to reduce the civilian headcount.
Speaking on behalf of the PCS campaigns team, Sean Sweeney said, if successful, the commercialisation would have a “massive impact” on the hundreds of people who guard the nuclear submarines at Faslane and the Trident warhead storage site at Coulport.
He said: “Those employees, our members, are civil servants who know only too well what the consequences of being transferred over to a [private] company would mean for them and their families.
“The sites on the Clyde are, undoubtedly, the most sensitive and high profile in the whole of the MoD.
“For most, the idea of even considering to privatise any element of security on those sites would be complete lunacy and we feel that, in choosing to target a security organisation within the MoD, the department are only just beginning to understand the public and political sensitivities surrounding such a proposal and we feel confident that we can stop them in their tracks.
“The main issue here relates to whether the responsibility for securing the sites that contain such material should remain with trusted public servants or be delegated out to companies whose main priority is delivering profit to their shareholders.”
The MGS provide unarmed guarding duties at MoD sites throughout the UK but PCS say the sites on the Clyde are the most high-profile and pose the most notable security questions.
The PCS spokesman added: “It’s an extremely dangerous path that the MoD are pursuing, risking the security at such important sites for negligible financial saving.”
The case for going to the market and inviting bids is said to be awaiting Cabinet Office approval and the expectation is that this will be granted.
Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara, whose constituency covers the two Royal Navy sites, blasted the move, saying: “Coming only days after promises to plough further public money into the Trident renewal programme and the increase of personnel to be transferred to the Faslane base over the next few years, we cannot play fast and loose with security at the base. The local community and the staff at both Faslane and Coulport must have absolute confidence that the facilities are secured by the very best security services available.”
A MoD spokesman said: “We are reviewing the way we provide our guarding at some sites but would never make changes that put safety and security in jeopardy. No final decisions have been made and senior staff, trade unions and security representatives will be engaged in this process.”
Safety fears Faslane could have a private security firm