Defence secretary Ben Wallace has been urged to intervene to avert more strikes at a Beith complex which some fear could disrupt the supply of missiles to Ukraine.

Patricia Gibson MP has written to the UK Minister to support GMB Scotland workers fighting for fairness at the munitions depot in Ayrshire and demand action to settle the ongoing dispute.

Ms Gibson, SNP MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, called for action as Ukrainian politicians and trade unions voiced support for staff striking at the Defence Equipment & Support (DES) complex in Beith.

Non-craft workers preparing arms for shipment at the depot, part of the Ministry of Defence, will walk out again this week in their fight for the same bonus payments as colleagues assembling the munitions.

North Ayrshire MP Ms Gibson told Mr Wallace a resolution was urgently needed to protect the supply of equipment to UK armed forces and the Ukrainian frontline.

She added: “I am sure you will agree the non-craft workers are essential and without them the depot would not function.

“The disparity in the treatment of workers at the site can only cause ongoing disruption at this extremely challenging time.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: DES in Beith

“The staff have not taken the decision to take industrial action lightly. However, they cannot accept a two-tier workplace.

“I would be grateful if you could intervene in this dispute to ensure DES management provide parity, fairness and equality for its workforce.”

DES delivers equipment and support services to the UK armed forces but staff are divided between craft workers, who assemble the weapons, and non-craft colleagues who prepare them for shipment.

Extra payments are made to managers and craft workers to help stop them leaving but the retention bonuses are not paid to non-craft colleagues earning less than £21,000 a year.

GMB Scotland says the pay gap between craft and non-craft workers has tripled to £18,000 at the depot in recent years and warns the strike, the first in the history of DES, will disrupt shipments of munitions and missiles to Ukraine.

Gibson urged the defence secretary to intervene days after Lesia Vasylenko, a high-profile Ukrainian MP, thanked the strikers for their “life-saving” work.

The Kyiv politician, who visited the UK last year to speak at party conferences, said: “I thank every one of them, support their fight for fairness and urge managers to quickly negotiate an end to this dispute and ensure their crucial work continues.”

The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) has also voiced support for the strikers and urged DES to settle the dispute.

More than 50 GMB Scotland members walked out for two days earlier this month and plan two more days of strike action on Friday and Monday after 93 per cent backed industrial action.

GMB Scotland organiser Chris Kennedy said: “This is the first strike at DES and management should listen to the voices being raised in support of our members, from Scotland to Kyiv, and negotiate a settlement that treats workers with fairness and respect.”

But the Ministry of Defence said: “The 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 operation of the site.

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