Support Appledore shipyard call

Ministers need to make waves to ensure newly-purchased Appledore shipyard is successful

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The government must start making waves to support the resurrection of the Appledore shipyard, as career open days are planned in the next week to entice skilled workers back to the north Devon site.

Unite renewed its call today (September 4) for the government to review its procurement policies to ensure that British ships are built at UK yards, including the Fleet Solid Support Ships due to go out to tender soon.

Unite warmly welcomed the news last month that InfraStrata, the owners of Harland and Wolff in Belfast, had bought the Appledore shipyard, which was closed in March 2019 by its previous owner, engineering giant Babcock after 164 years with the loss of about 200 jobs.

Unite regards the careers’ days over the next week to attract expressions of interest online from skilled workers as the first step in getting shipbuilding restarted as soon as possible at the renamed Harland and Wolff Appledore – and that will also need active involvement from the government.

Unite regional officer Heathcliffe Pettifer said, “We have had preliminary discussions with the senior management, and hope to have more constructive and meaningful talks with the new owners as soon as possible.

“We want to explore the business plan, what the order book looks like, the workforce that will be required and the skill sets that employees will need.

“As you will appreciate, all these elements are linked together and require detailed consultation,” he added.

“Unite has consistently argued that Appledore is viable and its closure in 2019 was due to a lack of political will and a failure of economic planning.

“Such government inertia can’t be allowed in the future and defence secretary Ben Wallace needs to review current procurement policies to ensure that British ships are built at UK yards. Such policies must include the Fleet Solid Support Ships which are due to go out to tender shortly.

“Appledore will be a litmus test for Boris Johnson and his ‘build, build’ rhetoric, and also for the Tories’ so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda which is desperately needed in the West Country,” Pettifer went on to say.

“Behind the picture postcard cottages and images of endless cream teas, there are very real pockets of economic deprivation across the region that the resurrection of Appledore as an economically viable shipbuilding entity will start to address.

“The career days and expression of interest from potential employees will be the start of that journey to explore the future opportunities on offer.”

By Shaun Noble

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