A petition signed by more than 8,000 people calling on the government to secure future shipbuilding work at the threatened Appledore shipyard will be handed in at the House of Commons tomorrow (October 30).
A delegation from Unite the union and the GMB will hand in the petition to the Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox tomorrow. A copy of the petition will also be sent to defence secretary Gavin Williamson.
The petition comes as fears mount about the future of Appledore which employs 200 workers, following media reports that the owners, engineering giant Babcock International is poised to shut the 163-year-old Devon shipyard.
The latest chapter in the campaign follows the successful march and rally in Bideford on Saturday (October 27) when an estimated 500 people took part in one of the biggest such events in Devon in recent times.
Unite regional officer Heathcliffe Pettifer said, “Following the very successful turnout on Saturday, we are taking the campaign to the House of Commons tomorrow when we will present the petition signed by more than 8,000 people to local MP Geoffrey Cox.
“We also hope to give a copy to the office of defence secretary Gavin Williamson who has it within his power to save this historic shipyard with its workforce of 200 skilled manufacturing jobs,” he added.
“The impact on the Devon economy will be widespread, devastating and enduring, if the yard closes.
“We are still demanding that serious questions need to be asked of the top management of Babcock International, following a damning report by The Boatman Capital Research highlighting the toxic relationship between the company and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
“Our members’ jobs should not be sacrificed because of the apparent incompetence of senior executives at Babcock International.”
The Unite delegation is also scheduled to meet Labour shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith and Wayne David, shadow defence minister (armed forces and defence procurement).
The situation at Appledore has come to a head after the recent loss of a contract to Italian yard Fincantieri.
Earlier this month, Unite said the government’s continual lack of commitment to building ships for the Royal Navy threatens ‘to shipwreck’ the future of Appledore and also the Harland & Wolff yard in Belfast.