On 14th February Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology visited the Defence Support Group (DSG) to hand out campaign medals to workers who have served in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, in recognition of the pivotal support they provided to the front line troops.
Ironically Philip Dunne is the Minister that is currently responsible for signing off the potential sale of DSG. The sale was announced in October 2010 as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). If the sale goes ahead it could mean that the people he was presenting medals to could be made redundant in the near future.
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. The potential sale will undermine a vital service that supports the front line troops and place high skilled jobs at risk.
Selling off the service would mean these unique skills will be lost. It will also mean that any profits made would be enjoyed by the shareholders rather than given back to the MoD. In addition the sale would adversely affect the local communities surrounding the DSG sites.
The sale would also be detrimental to our troops. In a conflict situation the worry is that there would be too much talking about how much things cost etc. rather than moving quickly to provide the service immediately. DSG are able to move quickly and concentrate on providing kits and services as soon as they are required.
On the day of the visit members of staff joined together during their lunch time for a demonstration on the road outside their workplace. Their message was that selling off DSG to the private sector is the wrong decision. They hoped their message would be heard and understood by the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology. Other workers driving past the demonstration on their way to and from work, including those from another MoD branch, Logistic Commodity Services (Transformation) (LCS(T)) whose fate also lies in the hands of Philip Dunne, showed their support by tooting their horns and waving as they passed the demonstrators.
Whilst the demonstration was taking place outside, trade union officials met with the Minister inside to put their concerns to him directly. After the meeting the participants in the demonstration were addressed by a union official who updated them on what the Minister had to say about the sale.