FIRE and rescue crews at Scotland's nuclear naval base are poised to begin strike action in a major row with bosses.

Union members say they're acting over safety fears. But bosses have shot down claims that they're creating risks and say they're ploughing cash into the operation.

Industrial action will begin tomorrow at HM Naval Base Clyde, home of the Trident submarine fleet, and involves Unite members providing onsite fire cover for both Faslane and Coulport parts of the base.

Staff working for MoD contractor Capita Business Services are acting over a dispute about cuts to crew levels and a "lack of consultation". They have been involved in an overtime ban since mid-September and now plan six-hour discontinuous strike action tomorrow, Thursday and on the same days next week.

Capita won the fire response services contract last year and propose a 15% cut in fire safety crew.

Debbie Hutchings, Unite industrial officer, said: "Unite's members are stepping up their industrial action this week at Coulport and Faslane due to the ongoing concerns around safety. This dispute is about our members not being given the assurances and guarantees over their health and safety in fire response situations, and the training which has been promised to cover such responses.

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"We have been in dialogue with Capita since their decision to press ahead with cutting the fire response services at the bases, but more concerns have been raised throughout this process. Unite remains open to dialogue with Capita but our members have simply had enough and feel that their employer has not yet done enough. The workers will be taking strike action in the interests of their safety, and the safety of the public."

It's understood that picket lines will be in place at the Coulport main gate and at the Faslane North gate.

The move comes after civilian staff considering industrial action over a pay dispute at Coulport's Royal Naval Armaments Depot broke their silence as they warned defence company bosses they may refuse to work.

Staff employed through the ABL Alliance – which includes Lockheed Martin, Babcock Marine and AWE Plc – spoke in confidence to the Sunday National.

Capita says the changes have seen just four people leave on voluntary deals and it's setting up new on-site training facilities. It claims it's engaged fully with staff and is bringing in new fire-fighting vehicles by the end of the year. A spokesperson said: "We are disappointed by Unite’s further escalation of industrial action regarding MoD-approved changes that have been made to resourcing levels at Faslane and Coulport.

"We have a range of contingency options agreed with Defence Fire and Rescue and the Royal Navy’s Clyde leadership team which will ensure the delivery of fire service operations is maintained. Our recommendations to increase or decrease resourcing levels at any MOD site have to be endorsed by Defence Fire and Rescue’s Chief Fire Officer, and ultimately approved by the site’s leadership team.  Any such decision would follow on from a thorough review of fire risks."