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Colchester jobs blow as defence giant decides site ‘not viable’

PUBLISHED: 17:53 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:14 06 August 2018

Jobs are at risk at a Babcock army vehicle repair site in Colchester Picture: CORPORAL AMRIT THAPA

Jobs are at risk at a Babcock army vehicle repair site in Colchester Picture: CORPORAL AMRIT THAPA

MoD Crown Copyright

Fifty-five jobs are at risk in Colchester after defence giant Babcock deemed its site there was “not viable” to continue.

Union officials called for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to take the Babcock Defence Support Group (DSG) facility, which repairs and maintains a range of army vehicles including Land Rovers, back ‘in-house’. The facility also delivers field generators and maintains the army’s ceremonial gun carriers.

A spokesman for Babcock said the proposal to close the site followed a review. “We have determined that it is not viable to continue to provide services from the main site at Colchester, and we therefore propose to transfer its workload to other sites. We are undertaking a consultation with the 55 people potentially affected, and where possible, we will offer alternative positions at other sites,” he said.

A Government spokesperson said it was a matter for Babcock, which was seeking to reshape its business, but no final decision had been taken. Job Centre Plus would support any workers affected, and there would be no impact on defence capabilities as a result of the proposals, he added.

“Last year the MoD spent £1.7bn with Babcock, who play an instrumental role in providing support services to the Armed Forces. The company has taken this decision as a result of internal restructuring and expect to achieve many of the reductions by voluntary means. However, this is clearly a concerning time for their workers and the government stands ready to support those affected,” he said.

Unite said it would be making strong representations on behalf of its 37 members at the site during the 30-day consultation.

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook said DSG employed “highly skilled and experienced workers” who provide safety critical services to protect UK troops.

“The Colchester announcement, with 55 jobs under threat, has raised serious concerns amongst employees at other DSG sites, fearful that they may be next on the never-ending conveyor belt of job losses,” she said.

Unite national officer for the MoD Jim Kennedy said: ““Unite is calling for DSG to be returned to MoD ownership to ensure that the skills and services of the workforce are maintained and that confidence in the organisation can be restored to pre-privatisation levels.”

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