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BAE workers back to work after job cuts announcement

By DPF Admin7th November 2013Latest News

Staff at BAE's shipyards are going back to work after being told that almost 1,800 of them are facing redundancy.

They were sent home on Wednesday after the announcement of job cuts, which include about 800 in Scotland.

Most of the jobs will go in Portsmouth where shipbuilding will end altogether. There will also be job losses in Filton, near Bristol.

Unions at Scotland's shipyards said they hoped many of the job losses would be found through voluntary redundancy.

The Scottish yards include Govan and Scotstoun, on the River Clyde in Glasgow, and Rosyth in Fife.

The Clyde yards have been earmarked for building the new Type 26 warships.

The UK government has been accused by MPs in the south-east of England of sacrificing shipbuilding in Portsmouth because of next year's independence referendum.

However, the Scottish government has accused it of “absurd” threat to jobs in Glasgow in the event of a Yes vote.

The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that in the event of independence, a UK government would be bound to want to build warships inside the UK and not in Scotland.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said Scotland would find it “difficult” to win UK government shipbuilding contracts if the country voted for independence.

Joint procurement

But Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that in an independent Scotland, joint procurement of Type 26 frigates could be possible.

She said: “These ships will be built on the Clyde because BAE said yesterday, and the defence secretary said yesterday, that it's the best place to build them because of the investment we have seen in these yards, because of the skills mix and because of the value for money.

“Type 26 frigates, offshore patrol vessels – these are exactly the kind of vessels that an independent Scottish government would need. So we would be procuring some of these Type 26 frigates.

“Actually, the sensible proposition in that scenario would be a joint procurement.”

However, former Conservative Defence Minister Sir Gerald Howarth told the programme the issue was about European law.

He said: “Under article 346, national security determines that if we wish to maintain exclusivity in the United Kingdom in order to maintain our sovereign capability, then we can do so.

“If Scotland were no longer part of the United Kingdom, then Scotland would not enjoy that same privilege which they enjoy today.

“Nor would the United Kingdom enjoy that same exemption.”

Patrol vessels

The defence contractor and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have announced measures which they hope will offset the effect of the job cuts.

Among the plans are more than £100m of investment to expand the dockyard at Portsmouth.

Three new ocean-going Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Navy will also be built at BAE's Govan and Scotstoun yards in Glasgow.

This could help sustain shipbuilding at the yards until work is due to begin on the Type 26 Global Combat ships.

BAE said it had agreed with the MoD “that Glasgow would be the most effective location for the manufacture of the future Type 26 ships”.

“The company proposes to consolidate its shipbuilding operations in Glasgow with investments in facilities to create a world-class capability, positioning it to deliver an affordable Type 26 programme for the Royal Navy,” it said.

It said the cost of this restructuring would be borne by the MoD.

BAE said it would now begin consultation to cut 1,775 jobs “to result from these restructuring proposals”.

The MoD confirmed that it would commission three new ocean-going Offshore Patrol Vessels to play “a key role in counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti smuggling operations”.

It said these would be built at BAE's Govan and Scotstoun yards.

Work on the new vessels is due to begin next year with the first ship being delivered to the Royal Navy in 2017.

'Working class guys'

The ships are expected to replace the current, smaller River Class vessels which have been policing the UK's waters since 2003.

Mr Hammond said more than £100m would be invested in Portsmouth.

The money will be used to expand the dockyard to ensure it is ready for the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales as well as the Type 45 destroyers which are based in Portsmouth.

Workers at BAE's Scotstoun and Govan yards were told by management there would be about 800 jobs lost in Scotland but no breakdown was given.

Workers who left the yards said they were worried and disappointed, but that the announcement was not unexpected.

Alex Taylor, 63, a plater at Govan, said: “We've known for a while that the workload isn't there to carry the amount of people that we had building the carriers, but hopefully voluntary redundancies will take up the slack.”

He added that those affected by the job cuts at Portsmouth were “working class guys the same as ourselves, they're just shipbuilders.

“We're obviously relieved that things are looking better for the Clyde, but that doesn't mean to say that we've not got feelings for our comrades in Portsmouth.”

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