PCS Delegation Meets Armed Forces Minister

PCS Delegation Meets Armed Forces Minister
Article by Paul Bemrose (PCS Negotiations Officer)

PCS delegation meets with Bob Ainsworth to explain the threat to training service personnel posed by DTR and second meeting on package 2 held with new IPT


As part of the PCS campaign on DTR, the union has been seeking to engage the government at Ministerial level rather than be continually stonewalled by the DTR IPT. On Wednesday 21 January, the meeting with Bob Ainsworth finally took place.

PCS explains its position- Min AF hears but does not listen

The PCS delegation explained to the Minister tha t PCS had not opposed tri-service rationalisation, and although opposed to PFI- understood government policy in utilising private finance. However, PCS could not accept and never would, that selling off our members to the private sector to exploit and make redundant was either in defence’s interest or indeed the country’s.

PCS pressed the Minister explaining that our members are “the contract” and the failure to keep them delivering training would lead to contract failure and put defence training at risk. PCS explained that our members, outside of St Athan, were unwilling to transfer across the country and move to South Wales.

PCS also pointed out that St Athan couldn’t recruit IOs now- being some 28% below complement already, and posed the question, how can METRIX recruit in the limited area of South Wales all the IOs it will require to=2 0deliver training, given the site couldn’t even recruit and retain now?

PCS also pointed out that it had been excluded from seeing the “fall back” plan in detail and the risk mitigation plans that underpin the risk register. PCS refuted the contention of both the IPT and Tim Inshaw that these matters were “commercial in confidence”.

Bob Ainsworth, an ex trade union official with MSF in the Jaguar car plant in Coventry, fully understood and even empathised with the PCS position. However, he made it quite clear that as long as METRIX was spending money on developing its final solution, then he would continue to press ahead with trying to deliver privatisation of training areas in scope of package 1.

PCS suggested, as it has previously, that MoD consider de-coupling the build programme from training delivery and support. Here the Minister deferred to the IPT Team Leader Geoff Nield, who was present. Nield dismissed the suggestion claiming training and estate management were integral and a “holistic” approach was needed. This in itself will be a revelation to companies like Vosper Thorneycroft at Collingwood, Sultan, Bordon, Arborfield, Raleigh, and Bovingdon- where they provide the training but do not own the estate or its buildings! Of course METRIX want the build programme and the training contract too. It is scarcely credible that Nield, and more particularly Bob Ainsworth- given his former Trade Union credentials, can fail to understand the motivation of any corporation or similar organisation- i.e. to increase shareholder value. This has nothing to do with what’s best for defence, and everything to do with what’s most profitable for METRIX.

The Minister clearly wanted to engage with PCS but was concerned that sharing information with the Trade Unions appears to rebound upon him and the Department. PCS assured the Minister that if genuinely commercially sensitive material was shared with PCS, t hen it would not find its way into the public domain through our union. However, all other material gained at meetings or through FOI etc are of public record and PCS would continue to use them in its DTR campaign.

The Minister undertook to look at whether PCS could receive copies of the risk mitigation plans and the fall back position and its financial footprint.

Clearly, the PCS will continue to campaign against the privatisation of package 1 and package 2- should that IPT push the solution down the outsourcing road. It may be that the credit crunch will either push this programme even further to the right or finish it off entirely. But either way, PCS cannot rely upon the economy or the political masters to halt DTR. This will have to be achieved by members coming together and continuing with other unions and likeminded community organisations to end the madness of defence training privatisation.

Package 2 meeting

The first meeting between PCS, Prospect and package 2 IPT was held in Upavon on 27th January. The IPT shared its work to date which lacked any details yet on proposed solutions, as the IPT will be base lining and gathering information for some time yet.

What we do know is:

• Package 2 includes DCLPA, DCPG and MDPGA. This therefore includes only two Defence Colleges given the departure of DISC from package 2.
• Deepcut is to close- but exactly what the solution is in terms of move options is still being scoped.
• That the IPT has employed 3 consultancy firms- KPMG as “Training Advisor”, Entec and Grimley’s as “Estates Advisors”.
• That the time lines of package 1 and package 2 is now fully disaggregated. Previously there was an expectation that package 2 would be delivered against the same time line as package 1. Information from PK2 IPT proposes main gate business case in Spring 2010, initial training capacity in Spring 2013 and full training capacity in Spring 2018. This however is likely to change, and if package 1 is anything to go by- move to the right.

As we receive more information on the maturing solutions within package 2, PCS will promulgate it through further BBs.

Chris Ames, a journalist PCS has been working with recently filed this story on his blog.

Parliamentary clash
Mark Pritchard continues to badger the government on the rising cost of DTR. He submitted a written question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the implications for Wales of the defence training review programme

The reply from the government was:

The St. Athan Defence Training Academy is a very important project for Wales. The substantial investment of Package 1 will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs both during construction and from 2013, when construction is completed.

On the 28th January the following oral exchange was recorded in Hansard:

Mark Pritchard (Wrekin)

John Smith has claimed many times that hundreds of jobs will come to Wales as a result of the defence training review programme, but the programme has rising costs and increasing delays. Indeed, in his desperation, the hon. Gentleman visited the Prime Minister this week, even though the latter has given no assurance that the defence training review will go ahead in Wales. Do we not need an early statement from the Secretary of State giving us the truth about the project and its rising costs?

Paul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office)

I have had no indication at all that there will be any change of plan as far as that huge investment in Wales is concerned. The Government are commi tted to it but I am sure that, when the time comes, there will be a proper statement to this House of Commons.
John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that employment levels in south Wales will be greatly improved by the 5,000 jobs brought to the area by the defence technical academy? Does he also agree that it is about time that Opposition Members stopped knocking the project and began pulling together to en sure that it is brought in on time and within budget?

Paul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office)

That is what we all like to hear. My hon. Friend has been a great champion of the project. When those jobs come to Wales, it will be as a result of the biggest single Government investment in Wales ever.

Clearly John Smith is still playing his role of drummer boy for METRIX, but his figures are as credible as his knowledge of defence training. John Smith recently talked about the need to get away from “chalk and talk” training- it shows how little he knows about the modern training environment. PCS believes not only do his 5,000 jobs include over a 1,000 military posts- which to the public are hardly countable, but also many of the jobs Smith continually mentions are transitory jobs created during the build phase.


The DTR campaigns committee will be meeting shortly to plan the next phase of the DTR campaign. Members are urged to look out for details on how they can continue to be involved in defence of their jobs and to protect defence training from METRIX market madness.

Article by Paul Bemrose (PCS Negotiations Officer)

No comments: