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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

For immediate release – Wednesday 6 September 2017


Defence Secretary ignores vital industry warnings after Sir John Parker’s review, says union

GMB, the union for workers in the shipbuilding industry, today warned the government’s newly published national shipbuilding strategy amounted to a “missed opportunity.”

Whilst welcoming the long-overdue decision to buy at least five new Type 31e frigates constructed in the UK, the union warned that failing to secure the delivery of Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) contracts to UK yards and opening the process to international tender [1] risked doing permanent, irreversible damage to shipbuilding.

GMB also criticised the Government’s lack of commitment British steel in shipbuilding procurement processes [2].

Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer and CSEU National Chair for Shipbuilding said:

“Whilst the Government’s long overdue commitment to buy at least five new Type 31e frigates constructed in the UK is welcome, today’s strategy is a missed opportunity to boost shipbuilding in this country.

"Sir John Parker’s shipbuilding review urged the Government to better understand the socio-economic benefits of awarding non-warship building work, such as Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, to UK shipyards.

“By failing to heed those warnings and taking the RFAs to international tender, the Government has missed a golden opportunity to deliver sustainable prosperity to UK shipyards, the wider supply chain and the communities they support.

“Particularly at a time when there appears to be little or no progress in the Brexit talks, guaranteeing UK jobs on the RFA work would have given a much needed and immediate boost to the economy. Without the RFAs there would not be enough to sustain design teams and the number of potential apprenticeships - the net result of which will be a race to the bottom.

“Securing this work, creating employment and getting pounds in workers’ pockets would not only boost tax revenues, but also spending in both the local and wider UK economy. The lack of any guarantees to use only British steel in these builds is another missed opportunity by this Government to give this industry the long term security it needs.

“To entertain forcing good jobs abroad, as Michael Fallon has, risks doing lasting, irreversible damage to shipbuilding. GMB urges him to think again.

“The Defence Secretary said this morning 'we have to get back to making things' but his deeds are failing to match his words, denying the support to the shipbuilding industry that would make it a reality. Time will tell just how ill thought out the Governments position is".


GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at




[1] "All other naval ships should be subject to open competition (provided that there are no compelling national security reasons to constrain a particular procurement to national providers). This includes Royal Fleet Auxiliary as well as other Royal Navy-manned ships such as patrol, mine countermeasures, hydrographic and amphibious ships. p.33, National Shipbuilding Strategy: The Future of Naval Shipbuilding in the UK


[2] “While steel procurement responsibility for major shipbuilding programmes remains with our prime contractors, who take into account cost, time and quality, we are working hard to ensure that where we can, we source British steel. As part of our support for British steel we introduced new public procurement guidelines which help British suppliers compete more effectively with international suppliers by taking into account wider social and environmental factors.” P.34 National Shipbuilding Strategy: The Future of Naval Shipbuilding in the UK



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