Not investing enough in aircraft and support vessels to protect the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers was ‘foolhardy’, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Friday 13 November).

Unite, which has thousands of members employed in the UK’s defence industries, was commenting on a damning report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee which warned that the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) ‘failure to fund several key supporting capabilities will restrict how it can use the carriers for many years’.

Unite national officer for aerospace and shipbuilding Rhys McCarthy said: “The cross-party report by MPs paints a bleak picture of how the Ministry of Defence has conducted its procurement policy over many years to the detriment of UK defence industry jobs.

“It is a wake-up call for defence secretary Ben Wallace.

“Spending the money on the aircraft carriers and then not putting in the proper protection, such as the radar system and the delay with no guarantee that fleet solid support ships are to be designed, built and maintained in the UK, is foolhardy.

“British technology, skills and jobs are at risk because of flawed ministerial policy and the UK government should use the upcoming defence spending review to bring forward shovel ready projects that not only defend the nation, but also the wider economy. 

“Boris Johnson’s so-called Build Back Better agenda also needs to include a more coherent understanding of the importance of the UK’s defence industry, especially in relation to regional policy.

“We need a procurement policy that fully acknowledges the role that these world-class UK companies and their tens of thousands of employees can play in a post-pandemic global economy.”


Notes to editors: 

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.