A LOCAL MSP has called for the Ministry of Defence to urgently "get around the table" to bring an end to industrial action at a munitions defence plant.

Come August 21, 50 GMB Scotland members will walk out on strike for a fortnight, after four days of targeted action failed to secure a resolution.

The factory in Beith, North Ayrshire, ships weapons to Ukraine, as well as supplying the UK armed forces.

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Katy Clark, regional MSP for West Scotland, has written to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace demanding that the MoD negotiate with the workers, citing the "vital work they do in supporting the Ukrainian resistance to Russia's invasion".

The National: Katy Clark

Clark said: “I want to express my full solidarity to the munitions workers at Beith taking strike action. I attended the picket line last week and I am disappointed by the lack of progress on the part of DE&S [Defence Equipment and Support].

“Given the immense importance of the work they are doing, seeking to ensure equipment reaches allies under siege in Ukraine, it is concerning that management has fomented such unnecessary ill will and division among the workforce by creating huge pay disparities.

“Workers have my full support. DE&S need to get around the table and start negotiations so this dispute can be urgently resolved.”

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The MoD said there are plans in place to ensure the two-week strikes won't disrupt the plant's operations.

“These strikes will have no effect on our ability to provide capability to Ukraine. Pre-planned contingency measures are being implemented at DM Beith to ensure the continued safe and compliant operation of the site,” a spokesperson said.

“We remain open to dialogue with GMB to discuss the issues raised and work towards resolving them.”

The National: Volodymyr Zelensky signing a Storm Shadow – which was assembled in the Beith factoryVolodymyr Zelensky signing a Storm Shadow – which was assembled in the Beith factory (Image: Ukraine Presidential Press Office)

GMB has said it has won support from Ukrainian trade unions, and also Ukrainian MPs. The union published a letter from Mykhalio Volynets, chair of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine.

“The supplies you ensure are a lifesaver for civilians in cities under constant attack by Russian forces, as well as for the brave Ukrainian military on the frontline,” Volynets wrote.

“We sincerely appreciate your commitment to supporting Ukrainian workers during the hard times and stand in solidarity with union members in their struggle. We urge the employer to negotiate to resolve the problem as soon as possible.”

GMB Scotland secretary Louise Gilmour had previously urged management to resolve the dispute.

"A two-tier culture has been allowed to embed itself in this workplace and risks good working relationships now and in the future," she said.

"Everyone brings different skills to their work and that should be recognised but the role of our members is fundamental to the effective operation of this important site. 

"They are only asking for fairness and the support they have received from Scotland to Ukraine shows why they deserve it."