Minister slammed as ‘a hypocrite’ over armed forces sell-off

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Yesterday (Thursday February 14) the country’s biggest union, Unite, will label Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology “a hypocrite” for handing out medals to defence workers whose jobs he is placing at risk.

The minister is visiting the defence support group (DSG) site in Donnington to hand out medals to workers who have served in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, in recognition of the pivotal support they provided to front line troops.

The DSG is wholly owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and is the dedicated maintenance and repair service for the British armed forces’ vehicles, weapons and communications systems. However, the government is planning to sell-off the service to the private sector, in a move that will undermine a vital service supporting front line troops and place high skilled jobs at risk.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “It’s totally hypocritical of Philip Dunne to turn up and give medals to DSG staff, at the same time he is planning to sell their jobs from under them.

“This service plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the armed forces are as safe as possible when they go into dangerous situations; to end this arrangement would be disastrous.

“The dedicated services these workers offer could not be replicated by the private sector. When the forces are required to move quickly - as was the case with Mali - DSG are able to drop everything and concentrate on getting their kit ready. Private contractors would simply not be able to offer this level of dedication.

“We saw how armed forces had to clear up after the G4S Olympics scandal. Why has the government not learned the lessons of that fiasco?

“DSG is currently saving the MoD millions of pounds a year, so there is no business or operational case for the proposed sell-off.

“Workers are deeply worried about the future of their jobs and the potential impact on their families. But there are also real concerns both about the ‘value for money’ of the DSG sale and the health and safety impacts. The sale itself has been shrouded in secrecy, so we are calling on the government to urgently publish all of the documents related to the sale.

“The public, workers, parliamentarians and front line troops need to know the full potential impact of the sale on such a vital service.”