THE threat of industrial action by cleaners at BAE Systems' Scotstoun yard could threaten building work on the Royal Navy's new frigate programme, a union has warned. 

The GMB Scotland union says it's asking members working for the Emcor UK sub-contractor at BAE's Scotstoun and Govan yards if they want to move to a full industrial action ballot over pay and conditions.

The union claims management at Emcor is "stonewalling" a request for a pay increase from the national minimum wage of £8.91 an hour to the "real living wage" of £9.50.

Emcor UK, part of the US-based Emcor group, provides facilities management services for the British multi-national aerospace and shipbuilding giant, including sanitation measures for Covid-19 mitigation on site.

GMB Scotland organiser Gary Cook said: "There is a real prospect of halting work on the delivery of the Royal Navy Type-26 frigate programme because of Emcor’s refusal to pay their industrial cleaners a living wage, and BAE’s failure to demand it as standard from its sub-contractor.

"Contracts worth billions of pounds in taxpayers’ money flow through these yards, so it’s shameful there are workers on the Upper Clyde being paid no more than the legal hourly minimum wage for their labour.

"These workers are part of a process that’s delivering Britain’s naval future and they have worked diligently throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to keep the Govan and Scotstoun yards clean and safe.

"They deserve better than to be treated as the poor relations of our shipbuilding sector and between Emcor and BAE, multi-national firms worth billions, it wouldn’t amount to a drop in the ocean to lift these workers out of poverty pay."

A spokesperson for BAE Systems said: "We already pay our employees the real Living Wage and we're in the process of applying it more widely to contractors working on our UK sites. 

"We’ve engaged with the Living Wage Foundation and expect to register as an accredited Living Wage employer shortly.

"We’re working with our trades unions and those representing our contractors as we work through this process."

A spokesperson for Emcor added: "Emcor UK is a Living Wage Foundation Recognised Service Provider and we are actively engaging with customers to promote the adoption of the Real Living Wage."