Britain’s largest union, Unite called on UK defence secretary Michael Fallon MP to honour his government’s promises today (Friday 22 April), following reports that BAE Systems was considering significant job losses at its Govan and Scotstoun shipyards on the Clyde because of government changes to the Type 26 frigate programme.
Unite said it would be seeking an urgent meeting with the defence secretary after reports suggested BAE Systems was reviewing its naval ships business following government delays and the refusal of ministers to go ahead with a promised state of the art ‘frigate factory’ on the Clyde.
The ‘frigate factory’, incorporating Govan and Scotstoun shipyards, was the centre piece of a government commitment to build 13 Type 26 frigates for the Royal Navy.
Announced in the lead up to the Scottish referendum in November 2013, work was supposed to start on the first frigate in 2015 with the Clyde ‘frigate factory’ launching frigates at a rate of one a year.
The announcement also saw shipbuilding at BAE’s Portsmouth shipyards come to an end and the work transferred to Govan and Scotstoun.
Commenting Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “If these reports are true, it would be nothing short of manufacturing vandalism and torpedo Scotland’s historic role in shipbuilding. We urge Michael Fallon to meet with Unite and provide cast iron guarantees that the UK government will keep its promises.
“The Clyde has a proud tradition of shipbuilding and is home to some of the best shipbuilders making some of the best ships in the world.
“Those shipbuilders received a promise before the Scottish referendum from the UK government that their future would be secure. A failure by Michael Fallon to honour that promise and fulfil the promised Type 26 frigate programme would be an act of betrayal, leaving shipbuilding on the Clyde hanging by a thread.”
Ian Waddell Unite national officer said: “These reports will be deeply unsettling for members who can rest assured that Unite will be fighting for their jobs and their communities every step of the way.
“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the defence minister Michael Fallon to demand assurances that he honours his government’s promises as well as pressing BAE Systems to hold its nerve and keep faith with its workforce.
“Britain has a proud tradition of shipbuilding which could be holed beneath the water if these reports are true and significantly diminish our sovereign defence capability.
“Rather than leading defence workers up the garden path, the government needs to support them by giving them assurances that it will fulfil its commitment on the Type 26 frigate programme.”
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.