Staff ‘boxed into corner’

ENGINEERS working on Apache helicopters at Wattisham Airfield started an indefinite period of industrial action yesterday.

Workers, who service the attack helicopters used in Afghanistan, began an overtime ban, withdrew goodwill and commenced work-to-rule from 6am, following a dispute over pay.

The action was triggered by around 100 members of Unite – the country’s biggest trade union – who are employed by Morson Wynnwith.

They are aggrieved at the firm’s decision not to close a £3,000 a year salary gap between staff at Wattisham and engineers working for the company in Hampshire – a move promised in 2010.

Mark Robinson, Unite regional officer, said: “Following a meeting of our members, there was a clear feeling of anger and frustration regarding the company’s position.

“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.”

The stand-off could result in a full strike later this month after two ballots saw members vote in favour of action in August.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said the industrial action and possible strike at the base – currently home to Prince Harry – would not affect the military’s work in Afghanistan.