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Members of the trade Union Unite on strike at Lydd and Hythe Ranges in staff and safety row

By Sam Lennon

About 80 workers employed by Landmarc Support Services at the Lydd and Hythe Ranges are on strike today (Thursday) in a continuing dispute over handing the ranges to the military.

The trade union Unite, which represents the rangers, believes that such a handover could result in a fatality because of reduced staffing levels.

The union says its members are in a walk-out out from 7am to 1pm today and will do so again on Tuesday, when the ranges are fully booked and industrial action will cause maximum disruption.

The Lydd Ranges site - strike on today.
The Lydd Ranges site - strike on today.

Members are also in dispute with their employer due to them refusing to recognise their TUPE [Transfer of Undertakings – Protection of Employment; legal protection for workers whose jobs are transferred to new employers] terms and conditions.

Bob Middleton, lead officer for Unite members, said: “Landmarc has made a number of detrimental decisions regarding the new contract it was awarded from the Ministry of Defence and expects Unite members to simply accept them.

“We are not prepared to accept any change to the terms and conditions of our members which has an impact on their safety at work and reduces their salary."

Lydd Ranges with soldiers in training. Library picture.
Lydd Ranges with soldiers in training. Library picture.

Unite has already staged a strike of its 325 members at Landmarc Support Services bases across the country on November 3, including again at Hythe and Lydd, in a dispute about proposed redundancies, safety concerns and lack of consultation.

Unite said that the core of the dispute was the lowest possible bid put in by Landmarc to secure the five-year contract, after the company feared it was going to lose the contract it had held for a decade.

The union believes there will be a loss of 370 positions, bringing the UK workforce at the ranges down to about 1,000.

Unite has already written to the MoD asking for the contract to be reviewed, particularly the decision to hand over the running of the ranges to service personnel.

The jobs covered by Unite members include range wardens, technicians, administrators and estate workers.

A Landmarc spokesman said: "Our first concern is the safety of military users, range staff and the general public. While providing a safe place is the responsibility of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, we are working closely with them to ensure any action does not affect range safety.

"We are disappointed that United members have voted to take this action. However we will continue to work closely with the unions to reach an agreed outcome."

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