Workers at BAE Systems shipyards across the country face losing their jobs and Britain faces losing a large part of its shipbuilding capacity as bosses at to BAE plan to cut 1,775 jobs from sites across Scotland and England.
As workers reel from the news, trades unions in Portsmouth have organised a protest rally saying they want no job losses and that government and management should alter their plans,
All 940 jobs at Portsmouth are earmarked to go in 2014, ending shipbuilding there after five centuries of construction work in naval shipyards. A further 835 jobs will be lost at Govan and Scotstoun in Glasgow, at Rosyth and at the Filton offices near Bristol.
BAE heads a consortium with Babcock and Thales UK that has the contract with the Ministry of Defence for building an aircraft carrier. As present work on the carrier comes to an end, and in an attempt to restrict the inflating costs of military hardware, the workers will suffer with loss of livelihood and Portsmouth yard will be reduced to providing repairs and maintenance. As too often in privatised industry, cost are to be borne by the taxpayer. In this case of the cost of restructuring will be paid by the MoD.
The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions has called the news “devastating…for the UK shipbuilding industry” and will meet with management to discuss the plans.
David Cameron’s official told a news conference that the plans involving the sackings and closures were in the national interest. But his part of the nation is obviously different to the 95% who make the working class.
800 jobs will go in Scotland, and workers there await decisions on where the axe will fall, in areas of already high unemployment. The total closure of Portsmouth shipbuilding will lead to a dispersal of highly skilled workers and an “expertise” that will not “be easy to put back together” as the local MP for Portsmouth has said.
At both ends of the country industry will be damaged and workers thrown into poverty. Although there may be attempts to play national and regional cards in an attempt to divide, workers in Glasgow have expressed a fellow feeling for their Portsmouth comrades.
The problem for Britain is summed up by the Deputy General Secretary of Prospect, “For an island nation and in this time of increased global uncertainty, we should be seeking to maintain our shipbuilding capacity, not reduce it. Job losses of this scale will have a devastating impact upon local communities and economies.”. He added that such skilled jobs were essential for the economy to grow and for the country to come out of recession.