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Union urges MoD to resolve row with striking workers after forklift incident

The vehicle spun off a road at DM Beith in North Ayrshire while being driven by a soldier covering for staff who have walked out.

MoD sign

Workers on strike at a Ministry of Defence (MoD) munitions site have raised concerns after a forklift truck being driven by a soldier spun off the road.

GMB Scotland warned the incident raises questions about the role of soldiers being drafted in to cover for workers on strike amid a pay dispute at DM Beith, North Ayrshire.

The union said workers were told the forklift was being driven by a soldier and almost overturned in the incident on September 13.

The accident triggered official safety reports but the GMB said the MoD has refused to confirm the personnel involved, while saying no-one was injured.

The complex is operated by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), which is part of the MoD and supplies weapons to UK armed forces.

Chris Kennedy, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “It would appear this may have been a lucky escape but will they be so lucky next time?

“Our members have years of experience transporting sensitive material around the site and would rather be working than picketing.

“We have grave concerns about the kind of duties being undertaken by inexperienced personnel during this dispute, and for their safety and the safety of other workers.

“We would urge the Ministry of Defence to stand down the troops and start talking about a resolution.”

An MoD spokesperson said the soldier operating the forklift was fully experienced and licensed.

They added: “An issue occurred last week at DM Beith when an unladen forklift truck’s wheel became stuck on wet grass when conducting a turn on a narrow road.

“No-one was injured and at no point was the vehicle at risk of overturning.”

DM Beith, which has been supplying arms to Ukraine during the conflict, employs craft workers, who assemble weapons, and non-craft workers, who move arms around the site and load them for shipment.

The GMB says the gap between the salaries of craft and non-craft workers has tripled in recent years.

The current two-week strike follows four days of action in the summer and the collapse of talks at conciliation service Acas.

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