Unions is­sue warn­ing over Rosyth job losses

AXE: CSEU leader in­sists there must be no com­pul­sory re­dun­dan­cies

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - Craig smiTh

Unions have warned more must be done to end a ‘feast and famine’ cul­ture on ship­build­ing con­tracts across the UK in light of the mass job losses at Rosyth this week.

The Con­fed­er­a­tion of Ship­build­ing and Engi­neer­ing Unions, which in­cor­po­rate GMB and Unite, has called on Bab­cock In­ter­na­tional Group to en­sure there will be no im­po­si­tion of com­pul­sory job cuts at the Fife naval base af­ter the com­pany con­firmed on Tues­day that 250 posts have been ear­marked for the axe.

Joint trade union rep­re­sen­ta­tives were told re­dun­dan­cies are likely to af­fect 104 blue col­lar posts and 141 of­fice jobs, with Bab­cock sug­gest­ing it is an “in­evitable” re­sult of wind­ing down work at the yard af­ter the first of two ships un­der the Air­craft Car­rier Al­liance con­tract was com­pleted.

The Courier un­der­stands work­ers have been told the statu­tory con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod will run un­til the end of Jan­uary 2018 but, with many fam­i­lies left shell-shocked by the news so close to Christmas, the unions have de­manded Bab­cock achieves the re­duc­tion through vol­un­tary means only.

CSEU Scot­land chair­man Gary Cook called on the MoD to do what it can to end a ‘feast con­tracts.

He ex­plained: “The air­craft car­rier con­tract has de­liv­ered sig­nif­i­cant levels of em­ploy­ment in Rosyth for nearly a decade but, as the work on the car­ri­ers draws to end, it poses se­ri­ous ques­tions for the fu­ture.

“At its cur­rent ca­pac­ity the work at Rosyth sup­ports over 3,800 jobs across Fife and de­liv­ers £106 mil­lion in wages for the Scot­tish econ­omy. By the end of Jan­uary those jobs and that value will be re­duced. This can­not be the start of a down­ward spi­ral.

“First and fore­most, achiev­ing th­ese re­dun­dan­cies on a vol­un­tary ba­sis is en­tirely within Bab­cock’s gift and it is the least this em­ployer can do to recog­nise the mas­sive con­tri­bu­tion of the work­force to the de­liv­ery of the air­craft car­rier pro­gramme.”

Bab­cock said the prospects for its op­er­a­tion in Rosyth re­main good and la­belled work on the HMS Queen El­iz­a­beth and the HMS Prince of Wales as “an out­stand­ing suc­cess story”.

“Un­for­tu­nately, given the one-off na­ture of this large-scale pro­gramme, as the ships be­gin to be handed over to our cus­tomer we must inevitably re­shape our busi­ness to re­main com­pet­i­tive and take on new chal­lenges,” it said. “How­ever, medium-term op­por­tu­ni­ties and famine’ ap­proach to can­not com­pen­sate for the 250 or so spe­cific roles and ca­pa­bil­i­ties no longer needed with the slow­down of the QEC work.”

But Unite con­vener at Rosyth, Ray­mond Duguid, stressed: “Th­ese pro­posed job cuts are a con­fir­ma­tion of the fail­ure of the UK Govern­ment’s Na­tional Ship­build­ing strat­egy.

“Yards like Rosyth can­not thrive on piece­meal work and this govern­ment should be award­ing all com­plex war­ship and fleet aux­il­iary ves­sel man­u­fac­ture to UK yards.

“That’s the key to un­lock­ing the mas­sive po­ten­tial of UK ship­build­ing and en­sur­ing con­tin­ued pros­per­ity for work­ing class ship­build­ing com­mu­ni­ties like those in Fife.”

Scot­tish econ­omy sec­re­tary Keith Brown said the Scot­tish Govern­ment will give sup­port to those fac­ing re­dun­dancy through its Part­ner­ship Ac­tion for Con­tin­u­ing Em­ploy­ment ini­tia­tive.

“PACE aims to min­imise the time which in­di­vid­u­als fac­ing re­dun­dancy are out of work by pro­vid­ing skills de­vel­op­ment and em­ploy­a­bil­ity sup­port.

“I hope it is of some com­fort to those em­ploy­ees af­fected that PACE has an ex­cel­lent track record in sup­port­ing peo­ple back into em­ploy­ment,” he noted.

The launch of the air­craft car­rier HMS Prince of Wales at Rosyth in Septem­ber was de­scribed as “an out­stand­ing suc­cess story”, but unions fear too much ‘piece­meal’ work may be putting UK yards at risk.

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