Apache strike for chopper techs

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ENGINEERS at a Suffolk airbase began industrial action on Wednesday following a pay dispute leaving many up to £3,000 a year worse off.

The engineers at Wattisham airbase, who service Apache helicopters in Afghanistan, began an overtime ban, work-to-rule and withdrew goodwill on 6am Wednesday morning for an indefinate period.

The dispute arose after it was discovered that Wattisham staff receive about £3,000 less a year than counterparts at the firm’s Middle Wallop site in Hampshire, with management failing to honour its promise to more closely align pay.

Unite, which represents over 100 employees working for Morson Wynnwith at Wattisham, was scheduled to hold talks on Tuesday in a last ditch attempt to resolve the dispute. However, renegotiations were declined by the company.

The action follows two industrial action ballots in August giving a clear mandate for industrial action, including a possible strike.

Unite regional officer Mark Robinson said: “There was a clear feeling of anger and frustration regarding the company’s position. Our members want to show Morson Wynnwith that the company should honour the commitments made last year.

“Our members do 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.”