SUPPORT staff at several military bases across Hampshire are being “exploited for the sake of company profits”, a union claims.

Hundreds of cleaners, catering staff and housekeepers at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, Fort Blockhouse, HMS Sultan and Whale Island in Gosport have accused ESS Compass Group, which provides support services at MOD bases across the country, of bullying them to accept to a new pay structure.

Under the new deal, the unions claim that employees’ contracts will be cut down to as little as 48 weeks of work per year, with the remaining weeks unpaid.

Unite says the move, which was undertaken without staff consultation, was to boost its profits.

Bob Middleton, Unite regional officer, said: “Unite will not stand idly by and allow our low-paid members to be penalised and have their hard earned wages robbed from them.

“ESS and the parent company Compass are acting like Robin Hood in reverse; they are stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.

“These workers are effectively being paid by the taxpayer and it is disgraceful that the MoD has put its head in the sand and pretended that it has nothing to do with it.

“I am sure that the community will be absolutely disgusted to learn that local workers have been treated in this manner and will fully support our campaign.”

Unite added that workers had reported that it has become even more difficult to make ends meet with employees being told by managers “if you don’t like it they know where the door is.”

Members also reported staff being threatened with dismissal if they joined a union.

In response, a spokesperson for ESS Compass Group, said: “We continually review the working patterns of our colleagues to ensure they meet the evolving needs of our customers and clients and the changes we have implemented are in line with this.

“We remain committed to having an open and constructive dialogue with our colleagues.”

A spokesperson for Unite added that they wanted to put pressure on local MPs and government to change their mind and wanted to avoid taking strike action at all costs.