UNIONS and management were due to talk in London today (Tuesday) in a new move to resolve the dispute at Appledore Shipyard. Workers came out on strike for a fourth day on Monday as part of a series of two-days-a-week actions over pay. They argue that

UNIONS and management were due to talk in London today (Tuesday) in a new move to resolve the dispute at Appledore Shipyard.Workers came out on strike for a fourth day on Monday as part of a series of two-days-a-week actions over pay.They argue that workers in other yards owned by the same employers Babcock Marine are being paid substantially more.But they were warned at the weekend that they were putting in jeopardy a major order that will provide Appledore with work for the next five years.Archie Bethel, chief executive of Babcock Marine, told BBC News that an agreement had to be reached by the end of the year.He said failure to reach an agreement could affect work on the building of sections of two huge new aircraft carriers for the MoD, other parts of which will be built in other UK yards.He warned that any delay would affect Babcock's partners in the UK Aircraft Carrier Alliance, Thales UK and Vosper Thornycroft (VT) Group."We cannot put that programme at risk, so if we do not come to an agreement with the Appledore workforce, we will carry out the work elsewhere," he said.Mr Bethel said that Babcock employed 17,000 people across the UK."I cannot say that everyone gets paid the exact same amount - that just doesn't happen," he said. "But our view is that in Appledore, with a 12 per cent increase, they are paid as well as anyone in the Babcock group."Unite union representative Heathcliff Pettifer told the Gazette: "Clearly this has put a new light on things. Things have escalated to another level. Myself and GMB representative Stuart Fegan will be meeting at Heathrow in London tomorrow with Babcock management to discuss this development. We need to get back around the table. Hopefully we can resolve this, but it will mean goodwill from both parties.