Town's skilled workforce up for sale(August 22, 2014)
MOD sources have informed VFW that one of Warminster’s biggest employers is being put up for sale in an attempt to bolster the Government’s balance sheet through a rushed privatisation ahead of the general election.
We have learned that 13 so far unnamed companies have been invited to run the slide rule over the DGS operation and are actively being encouraged to bid for the outfit. The sale could yield the government hundreds of millions of pounds in short term gain but lose much more long term.
DSG is the Defence Support Group which employs 2,700 staff across the UK, with around 200 based at Warminster in an area still known to many Warmminster people as ‘The REME’.
It is 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 fears are that privatisation, most likely to US defence giant Lockheed Martin, will compromise the safety of soldiers on active service and in training, will provide the taxpayer with a poor deal comparable to the past Labour government’s ridiculous PFI scam and could lead to the operation leaving Warminster.
Cllr Steve Dancey, who has been covering military matters as a journalist for decades, said: “This proposal has nothing going for it apart from the fact it will give a short term boost to government finances. In the longer term it would cost the country millions more every year as the privatised company screws cash out of the MoD.
“But most importantly this move will lead to lower operating standards for workers and soldiers. I’m told there has always been a policy of ‘if in doubt throw it out’ when dealing with high tech military equipment but I understand that no longer holds because of the need to make the operation look ‘profitable’ to potential buyers.
“I also understand that the Army top brass is dead against the plan but feels powerless to do anything about it.
“Lockheed are the most likely to bid most for these facilities as they already have significant dealings with DSG following them winning the James computer system contract for megabucks a few years ago.”
Despite years of de-skilling and work being farmed out, often to a lower quality and poorly qualified workforce controlled from overseas, the facility in Warminster still provides a useful employment base for the town.
Cllr Dancey added: “I will be keeping a close eye on this matter in the next few weeks as this Con trick needs to be exposed.”