Unions to hold BAE shipyards talks


BAE Systems

Unions are to meet defence giant BAE Systems to discuss the future of the firm's three shipyards amid a review of its business.

The firm refused to comment on speculation that hundreds of jobs could be axed at Govan and Scotstoun in Scotland and Portsmouth.

Scotland's Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "We have been in dialogue for some time with BAE Systems on the issues surrounding the future of the Clyde shipyards.

"We are awaiting the outcome of BAE's discussions with the Ministry of Defence and are very alert to the situation concerning both yards.

"We are seeking urgent clarity on the future for both Govan and Scotstoun."

A BAE spokeswoman said: "We continue to work closely with the Ministry of Defence to explore all possible options to determine how best to sustain the capability to deliver complex warships in the UK in the future.

"This work is ongoing and we are committed to keeping our employees and trade unions informed as it progresses."

Hugh Scullion, Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions general secretary said: "We have secured talks with senior BAE systems executives early next week to examine the business case of the forthcoming announcement.

"Now is not the time for idle speculation or indeed party political point scoring, this is the future of an industry and we need to know from the company and the government directly what their plans for the future of UK shipbuilding are.

"The shipbuilding workforce throughout the UK are working flat out to deliver the aircraft carriers for the defence of the UK and they need to know what lies in store for them, their families and their communities."

A GMB union spokesman added: "Full time union officials and shop stewards will meet BAE next week to go over the detailed business case on how work will be organised once the carrier programme winds down."

BAE launched a review of its defence work 18 months ago.

Scottish Conservative leader and Glasgow MSP Ruth Davidson said: "The current speculation over shipyard jobs is unhelpful and destabilising to both the workforce and their families.

"BAE's shipbuilders on the Clyde are a highly professional, motivated and loyal workforce and they deserve clear answers from the company about their future."

David Hulse, GMB national officer and chairman of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Union's Shipbuilding national committee, said he was expecting an announcement on Thursday.

"We have arranged a two day meeting with the company at Farnborough next Monday and Tuesday that will be attended by officers and shop stewards from all the yards and all the unions. This meeting will examine in detail the business case and all aspects for scheduling work in the yards to complete building the carriers, starting work on the Type 26 ships and any other work.

"Any job numbers quoted in reports are based on speculation until we are clear following the outcome of the meeting next week and follow up meetings in the yards.

"GMB will do everything possible to safeguard jobs and the highly skilled workforces vital to manufacturing base across the UK. We will look for support from politicians to do the same."