The shipbuilding industry suffered another setback today (February 7) after Babcock announced 150 redundancies at its Rosyth shipyard.
Unite said the losses, which follow on from the decision to close Appledore shipyard in Devon and plans to cut a number of roles at Cammell Laird in Merseyside, were a “kick in the teeth” for a world class workforce who have “worked tirelessly” to build the UK’s two new aircraft carriers.
A Babcock spokesman said the losses are “continuation of the need to right-size our organisation”.
The spokesman said, “Having assessed our current workload and medium-term opportunities, we anticipate the loss of around 150 specific roles which are no longer needed in line with the rundown of the programme.”
Unite called on the government to do more to support Britain’s shipbuilding industry, warning that ministers’ obsession with putting Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships out to international tender and delays to the Type 31e frigate risks the loss of thousands of skilled jobs and irreplaceable knowledge.
The union demanded the government guarantee that the Royal Navy’s new auxiliary ships be built in UK shipyards using British steel.
A failure to do so would be viewed as a betrayal of not just UK shipbuilding and the country’s wider manufacturing sector, but communities that have supported naval shipbuilding for generations at a time of heightened Brexit uncertainty, Unite warned.
Assistant general secretary Steve Turner said, “Today’s announcement of job losses will send shudders down the spine of shipyard workers across the UK who in recent months have endured the threat of redundancy on the Mersey and the closure of Devon’s Appledore shipyard.
“The fear is that these job losses at Rosyth could turn into a flood and the industry left with a yawning skills gap unless the UK government starts supporting UK Plc by delivering on a shipbuilding strategy that guarantees the Royal Navy’s new auxiliary ships are block built in UK shipyards using British steel, in addition to bringing forward work on the Type 31e frigate for export around the globe.”
Unite regional officer Bob MacGregor said the union will be supporting members who are affected by the announcement and pressing Babcock to explore redeployment opportunities to keep redundancies to a minimum.
He added, “Unite will also be seeking an urgent meeting with the Scottish government to see what pressure it can bring to bear on the government in Westminster to save jobs by securing guarantees that the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels will be built in the UK and the delays to the Type 31e frigate programme lifted.”