Shop stewards of Britain’s largest union, Unite vowed to use everything in their ‘armoury’ to defend jobs and the UK’s ability to design and build complex warships following a meeting today, (Monday 25 April) to discuss their response to BAE’s review into its naval ships business.
Shop stewards from the Scotstoun and Govan shipyards on the Clyde, as well as Rosyth, are fearful that nearly half of the 2,000 workforce could be lost on the Clyde as part of the review. The threat to jobs follows a series of broken promises by the UK government on the Type 26 frigate programme and a refusal by ministers to go ahead with a promised state of the art ‘frigate factory’ on the Clyde.
Instead of building the promised 13 frigates, the UK government has delayed the project and is now planning to build five fewer over a longer timeframe after diverting £750 million to other defence projects.
Urging defence ministers to ‘stick to their promises’ of establishing a world class shipyard building a ship every year, the stewards warned that they could rule nothing out as part of their campaign to defend shipbuilding on the Clyde.
Over the coming days stewards will be consulting members on the next steps of the campaign which also includes workers currently on secondment to Rosyth who are building the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.
Commenting Unite national officer Ian Waddell said: “Our stewards are clear in their determination to make sure the UK government keeps its promise and will use everything in their armoury to defend the UK’s historic ability to design and build its own warships.
“Defence ministers in Westminster should not underestimate their anger or the feeling of betrayal which has resulted from the government’s backtracking and BAE’s review.
“Our stewards today have signalled that they will not stand by and allow shipbuilding on the Clyde to be hollowed out and the UK stripped of its ability to make its own warships.”
Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty added: “The UK government is behaving dishonourably in failing to live up to promises made in the run up to the Scottish independence referendum.
“Hundreds of jobs are now at risk because of this review which has resulted from broken promises and backsliding by defence ministers.
“Ministers would do well to remember the upper Clyde shipbuilders in the 1970s and the strong tradition of the Clyde’s workforce in standing up for their jobs and livelihoods.
“The UK government needs to keep its promises and BAE needs to hold its nerve.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.