Supermarket-style security staff could be used to guard the UK's nuclear deterrent, Trident, under new privatisation plans, Unite claimed on Wednesday (22 March).

The super-union warned that possible reforms to the Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS) could lead to a drop in standards, with potential repercussions for security of the nuclear bases at Faslane and Coulport in Scotland.

"The UK government is planning to open up the MGS, whose personnel are well-trained, to privatisation," said Mike McCartney, a national officer for Unite.

"Unite wholeheartedly opposes these plans and considers any such proposals are irrational and dangerous to the security not only of MoD sites, but to the security of our service personnel, their families and to all the civilians employed across these sites.

"If these proposals went ahead we could see someone deterring shoplifters at a supermarket on a Sunday then that same person turning up to guard a nuclear site on Monday.

"Employment conditions, training and standards could be compromised in 'a race to the bottom' by a private company keen to maximise profit."

The MGS employs more than 2,000 guards across 100 Minister of Defence sites in the UK. A spokesperson for the department insisted that the government would never make changes that put safety and security in jeopardy.

"We are reviewing the way we provide our guarding at some sites, but would never make changes that put safety and security in jeopardy," the spokesperson said. "No final decisions have been made and senior staff of the MOD Guard Service, trade unions and security representatives will be engaged in this process."