GMB calls on government to save Portsmouth’s ailing shipbuilding industry

The GMB is calling on the government to save Portsmouth’s ailing shipbuilding industry.

BAE on Tuesday announced approximately 340 redundancies in the Portsmouth maritime division, prompting Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan to raise the issue in a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May.

The Labour MP wrote: “I am yet to be convinced of BAE Systems’ justification that these job losses represent a normal corporate restructuring. After all, BAE Systems are not in a normal market position. ‘They enjoy a near monopoly and therefore owe their employees and the government, a special responsibility. I would hope that as one of BAE’s largest customers, the government can exert suitable pressure in advocating for their workforce.”

GMB national officer Ross Murdoch said: “Once again the hard-working, highly-skilled shipyard workers in Portsmouth have received a further blow after the recent demise of the city’s 500-year-old shipbuilding industry.

“GMB wants to remind people of David Cameron’s promise to bring shipbuilding back to Portsmouth and the £300,000 set aside for this, which has mysteriously disappeared.

“The former Prime Minister also brought in Michael Fallon as the Minister for Portsmouth to further this commitment. Michael Fallon’s approach to UK shipbuilding appears to be massively confused.

“On the one hand he publically comments the UK needs to start making things, then on the other he puts the three Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Solid Support Ships out to international tender by way of national shipbuilding policy.

“Given the ever increasing likelihood of no deal on Brexit, GMB calls on the government to reverse this decision and prioritise this work to be shared amongst UK shipyards, bringing the type of socioeconomic benefits referred to by Sir John Parker in his report.

“This would be a tremendous boost to both shipbuilding and steel working communities in the U.K. and bring much needed tax revenue and spend in the UK economy rather than overseas ones.

“And if their former minister, in his current role at the MOD, was to do so perhaps the good people of Portsmouth would get their fair share of this work if shipbuilding returned.

“The skills are still there as many of the workers made redundant after the closure of shipbuilding moved into the ship repair side and may be amongst this recent batch of redundancies announced by BAE.

“GMB also welcomes the commitment given by the Portsmouth South MP to engage in a meaningful way with the local CSEU trade unions, which was not the case in our view with the former MP”.

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