Helicopter Engineers Industrial Action

Engineers servicing helicopters used by the military in Afghanistan have taken industrial action in a pay row.

Unite, which represents more than 100 of the employees at Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk, said a work-to-rule and overtime ban began for an indefinite period in a dispute about pay differentials.

The union also warned of possible strike action, saying the Wattisham staff received about £3,000 less a year than their counterparts employed by Morson Wynnwith, based in Hampshire.

Unite regional officer Mark Robinson said: "Our members are largely ex-military personnel and do not take these steps lightly.

The last thing our members want is to affect the maintenance of the Apache helicopters, but they have been boxed into a corner by an intransigent management.''

A company spokesman said: "Morson Wynnwith is very disappointed that Unite has voted to commence industrial action at our site in Wattisham.

As we previously stated, a pay increase had been tabled earlier this year but this was rejected by union representatives following a ballot.

Unite has taken the decision to commence industrial action despite agreeing with Morson Wynnwith in July to undertake an independent review with representatives from the conciliation service Acas.

This review will be completed by October 13 and as a result no formal meeting was agreed with Unite for yesterday (Tuesday).

It is premature for us to comment any further. The company remains fully committed to resolving this dispute amicably and is willing to meet Unite representatives at the earliest opportunity to discuss a way forward.''