Airwave, which provides communications to the UK emergency services and other organisations, has said that its service will be unaffected by strike action being taken by the Communication Workers' Union (CWU).
The CWU intends to take two days of strike action starting on Friday 13th March in a dispute over compulsory redundancies. Airwave is reducing its staff numbers by 11% due, it says, to the current economic downturn.
Strike action affects 180 Airwave workers, including UK-wide field engineers and the network management centre in Rugby. Action starts at 7am on Friday 13th March for 24 hours and then at 7am on Monday 16th March for a further 24 hours. An ongoing overtime ban will be in place from Friday 13th March.
Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary, said: "It is unfortunate that staff have been pushed into the difficult decision of taking strike action. However, the refusal of Airwave to reconsider compulsory redundancies has left us no choice.
"Voluntary approaches to redundancies can make a huge difference to staff at difficult times and we will fight unnecessary compulsory cuts at all times."
A picket line will be in place at the Rugby network management centre during strike days
But Airwave said the strike action would not affect services. Richard Bobbett, Airwave's CEO, said, "I want to reassure all our customers, and the general public, that the Airwave service will be unaffected by this strike action. Airwave is more than prepared for this sort of eventuality. We have robust business continuity arrangements in place for all eventualities from flu pandemics to national emergencies. I am deeply disappointed that the CWU feel such action is necessary and I look forward to continued talks with the CWU in the not too distant future."
Bobbett said the company had taken steps to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies.
"Of the originally proposed 95 redundancies, to date we have accepted 59 voluntary applicants. Together with our commitment to redeployment through the flexible resource pool, this means that we can significantly reduce the need for compulsory redundancy. Naturally I deeply regret I have had to take this action and we are offering full support to all those individuals affected."
Airwave is owned by two Macquarie investment funds – Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group (MCG) and Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund II (MEIF II).