Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Qinetiq: 21st century technology, 19th century management

Some of my British readers may have watched the recent BBC documentary on defence contractors Qinetiq. I watched it myself: after all, a young lady with whom I had a romantic dalliance when a student (reader: she dumped me...) went on to have a successful career with what became Qinetiq, designing head-up displays for helicopters. (The abstract of one of her papers brought to mind an image of this petite and squeaky-voiced damsel tormenting beefy test pilots by spinning them up to 6g or so in a centrifuge, while getting them to try aiming missiles using various HUD interface options.) The lady has since taken early retirement to indulge her other love, astronomy.

One thing the documentary did
not mention, among Leo Quinn's various smug statements, was that Qinetiq management plans unilateral derecognition from 31st March of all four unions representing its workforce (Prospect, Unite, GMB and PCS). This will make Qinetiq the only contractor employed by the MoD which refuses to recognise trade unions.

There is an Early Day Motion (number 2803) condemning this crude attempt at union-busting. If your MP hasn't yet signed (see here) email him and ask him to do so. mine hasn't, but he has an excuse, as an extract from his email reply shows:

I am deeply concerned about this announcement. As you rightly note, positive and effective engagement by employers with employees is hugely critical. It is not only in the interests of workers, but for business overall.

As you have said, Qinetiq will be the only major MOD contractor which does not recognise trade unions - this is something which the Secretary of State for Defence should act upon. The company is very important to our defence industry, providing state of the art defence technology. However, they cannot be allowed to fail to recognise the work of unions in the workplace.

As Shadow Minister for Employment Relations, I have been in contact with the trade unions on this issue and have offered any assistance I can. I understand that they recently met with senior management at Qinetiq and that discussions are ongoing. I also understand that they are due to lobby the Defence Secretary at the end of the month.

Unfortunately, as a Shadow Frontbencher I am unable to sign EDMs due to parliamentary convention. However, please be assured that I am following events closely and I am fully supportive of our trade unions here.

At least the guy is doing something. This story is being largely ignored by the media (except, unsurprisingly, Socialist Worker), and isn't even that well-known among union activists.


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