The announcement today (August 25) that InfraStrata, the owners of the Harland and Wolff in Belfast, has bought the historic Appledore shipyard in North Devon has been hailed as great news by Unite.
Unite has been working with the local community since Spring last year to get the yard re-opened after the previous owners Babcock ceased production, ending over 100 years of shipbuilding. Since then the yard has been dormant.
Most of the highly skilled workforce were transferred to Babcock’s facility in Plymouth and many of these workers could potentially be interested in returning to work at Appledore.
Unite regional officer Healthcliffe Pettifer, who was previously the union’s convenor at the yard, said, “This is a great news for Appledore and the local community which never gave up in campaigning for the yard’s re-opening.
“Unite has consistently argued that the Appledore shipyard was viable and its closure was due to a lack of political will and a failure of economic planning,” he added.
“It is now essential that work resumes at the shipyard at the earliest possible opportunity. This will give a huge boost to Appledore and the local community.
“Unite will now be seeking urgent meetings with the yard’s new owners to fully understand their plans for its future and to encourage the re-engagement of the dedicated workers who previously worked there.”
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner noted, “This is great news for Appledore and the UK’s shipbuilding industry.
“It demonstrates what can be achieved by unions working with the local community to overturn the huge injustice of the yard being mothballed in the first place,” he added.
“It is now incumbent on the UK government to thoroughly review its procurement policies to ensure that British ships are built at UK yards. Such policies must include the Fleet Solid Support Ships were are due to be go out to tender shortly.”
“If Boris Johnson’s mantra of build, build, build has any real substance then the UK’s shipbuilding industry must be one of the early beneficiaries.”
By Barckley Sumner