Naval Base Workers Strike Over Covid Safety Fears

Security guards at Devonport naval base are striking over Covid concerns in their working conditions. Earlier today a picket line was formed by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)

(Image: PCS Defence Sector Group)

Following Covid the ‘touch pass protocol’ has been reintroduced which means staff have to physically touch visitors’ passes every time they enter or leave the site. The supervisors and security guards employed by MoD Guards Services are concerned this increases their risk of infection. The ‘touch pass protocol’ was halted in March 2020 for Covid safety restrictions.

Ryan Aldred is the Vice Chair of Plymouth Trades Council, he said – 

“The touch pass protocol (TPP) hasn’t been in operation since the outbreak of the pandemic and on no occasion in that period has the integrity of the naval base’s security been compromised because of the high standards upheld by security staff at the site.

Workers should be able to continue to do their job without running the risk of compromising their own health nor the health of those on the base. If it ain’t broke, why ‘fix’ it?”

In August when balloting for the strike, the PCS said the ballot was a result of the employer not consulting with them or negotiating changes relating to health and safety work practices. A spokesperson for the PCS said-

“This measure is a real risk to our members’ health, and to that of everyone on the base. Touching a pass does not achieve base security. That’s entirely down to our members’ skill and vigilance, as they’ve demonstrated across the past 27 months when TPP was stopped.

Our security guard members’ job is to keep people safe at the naval base, so it’s worrying that this measure makes them – and others – less safe.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said – 

 “The safety and security of Defence staff and sites is our top priority and contingency plans are in place to ensure that neither are compromised by the industrial action.

We are disappointed by this industrial action. The Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS) management recently undertook a consultation process with Trades Unions over their processes.”