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Shipbuilding Job Losses Devastating

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Huge Job Losses Mean This A Devastating Day For UK Shipbuilding Says GMB

There is genuine concerns about the future of the industry as the skills vital to the nation’s defence, if lost, will never be replaced says GMB

GMB, the union for workers in the shipbuilding industry, commented on job losses and new orders announced today (6th November ) which impact on shipbuilding yards in Portsmouth and Glasgow. See notes to editors for copy of general notice issued by BAE Systems and press release from MOD of 6th November.

David Hulse, GMB national officer and chair of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Union’s Shipbuilding National Committee, said “Following today’s announcement from BAE Systems we are able to confirm that no shipyard will be closing even though there are substantial job losses in the pipeline.

There is no doubt that this is a devastating day for the UK shipbuilding industry and the company will have to justify to us the job losses planned.

We have arranged a two day meeting with the company at Farnborough next Monday and Tuesday that will be attended by officers and shop stewards from all the yards and all the unions. This meeting will examine in detail the business case and all aspects for scheduling work in the yards to complete building the carriers, starting work on the Type 26 ships and any other work.

GMB is genuinely concerned about the future of the UK shipbuilding industry as the skills, if lost, will never be replaced. We have already seen a lost generation where no apprentices have been trained.

GMB also has serious concerns about the defence capabilities of the Royal Navy to defend UK interests in this uncertain world.

GMB will do everything possible to safeguard jobs and the highly skilled workforces vital to manufacturing base across the UK. We will look for support from politicians to do the same

Contact David Hulse 07971 266157 or Scotland Harry Donaldson 07885 456 726 or Jim Moohan 07885 868 405 of Gary Cook Portsmouth 07712 677594

Notes to editors

1 General Notice issued on 6th November 2013 by BAE Systems to all employees

Future Shipbuilding Strategy

There has been considerable media speculation in the past months and days about the future of our shipbuilding capability.  We appreciate that this has been difficult for you and your families.  I would like to set out some context to today’s announcements, knowing that this uncertainty has been unsettling.   

In 2009, we signed a Terms of Business Agreement (ToBA) with the Ministry of Defence (MOD), which sets out the requirement for the Naval Ships business to transform following the completion of the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Class block build at our sites.

We have been operating at a peak in shipbuilding not seen for more than 60 years.  The delivery of the QE Class aircraft carrier, Type 45 destroyer and export programmes, in parallel, has kept our yards full and our people busy.  However, our current capacity and industrial footprint is greater than that required for our future workload. As we have communicated previously, we have been engaged in detailed discussions with the MOD focused on exploring all possible options to determine how best to sustain the capability to deliver complex warships in the UK.

We are now able to share the proposals on the future shape of our business, which we believe will create a world class complex warship business and will secure the capability required to deliver an affordable Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme.

BAE Systems has recommended to the MOD that Glasgow would be the most effective build location for Type 26, based on skills, operational delivery and costs.  The MOD has accepted this recommendation. We have also made recommendations to the MOD about investment in our Glasgow facilities to create a world-class warship design, build and integration capability.

Therefore, subject to consultation, we propose to consolidate our complex warship manufacturing capability in Glasgow. This would mean that shipbuilding operations at Portsmouth would cease in the second half of 2014.

Under our proposals, Lower Block 05 and Upper Blocks 07 and 14 for the second QE Class ship would be allocated to Glasgow. The MOD has also announced today that it has asked BAE Systems to deliver three Offshore Patrol Vessels, which we are proposing to manufacture in Glasgow. The ships will provide the Royal Navy with improved capability and, together with the allocation of QE Class blocks, would sustain a core workforce needed to build Type 26 at Glasgow.

Regrettably, we are today beginning collective consultation regarding 1775 potential surplus positions across Naval Ships, including:

·         940 roles in Portsmouth during 2014

·         835 roles across Glasgow, Filton and Rosyth progressively through to 2016

BAE Systems remains committed to investing in Portsmouth and surrounding areas. The Naval Base has a strong future as it prepares for the arrival of the first QE Class aircraft carrier in 2017. The Maritime Services business will continue to manage the running of the Naval Base on behalf of the MOD and provide support services to around 50% of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet, including the six world-class Type 45 destroyers.   In addition, the area will remain the hub for our combat systems capability and through life support for radars, torpedoes and small boats.

Naval Ships employees contractually employed at Dorchester, Frimley and New Malden are not directly impacted by this announcement.  We will retain a Naval Ships engineering team in Portsmouth to support the Type 26 programme.

We are committed to constructive consultation on these proposals with you and your representatives. We will work closely with affected employees in Naval Ships to explore all ways of avoiding, reducing and mitigating potential job losses. The Company has a strong track record in this area and we will explore all potential opportunities across Naval Ships and other BAE Systems businesses, in particular with Maritime Services at Portsmouth. This will include retraining, redeployment and flexible working arrangements, as well as providing support for employees who wish to retire or seek external opportunities.

I know you will all want to be kept informed as we progress with consultations.  I commit to you that we will actively engage with all affected employees throughout this process and we will continue to keep you informed of our progress and next steps. 

 Mick Ord

Managing Director

2  PRESS RELEASE from MOD   6 November 2013


The MoD plans to commission three new ocean-going Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Navy in a deal that will sustain jobs in the UK's warship building industry.

The new ships, which will be built by BAE Systems at their shipyards on the Clyde, will play a key role in counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti smuggling operations.

The agreement with BAE Systems provides work for the company between the completion of the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers and the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, securing the vital skills needed to build the UK's future warships.

The Defence Secretary is also announcing today that more than £100 million will be invested in Her Majesty's Naval Base Portsmouth, which will be home to both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. The money will expand the dockyard to ensure it is ready for the arrival of the Royal Navy's biggest ever warships as well as the Type 45 destroyers which are based in Portsmouth.

Under the Terms of Business Agreement signed with BAE Systems in 2009 the MoD would have been liable to pay for any periods when no shipbuilding was taking place at UK yards.

Building Offshore Patrol Vessels means not only are staff at BAE Systems able to continue to work and maintain their skills, but the Royal Navy benefits from three new ships and the taxpayer gets much better value for money. The cost of building the ships is funded from money that would have been used to pay for idle capacity, finance redundancies and meet the cost of industrial restructuring.

Portsmouth will maintain its proud maritime heritage as the home of much of the Royal Navy's surface fleet and the centre of BAE Systems ship support and maintenance business.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

"This deal will provide the Royal Navy with three brand new maritime patrol vessels with a wide range of capabilities which will support our national interests and those of our Overseas Territories.

"This is an investment not only in three ships but in this country's warship building industry. It prevents workers standing idle and sustains the vital skills needed to build the planned Type 26 frigate in the future.

"I am also pleased to announce additional investment in Portsmouth Naval Base to prepare for the significant increase in tonnage as the home port for the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers and destroyers."

Work on the new Offshore Patrol Vessels is due to begin next year with the first ship being delivered to the Royal Navy in 2017. The ships are expected to replace the current, smaller River Class vessels, HM Ships Tyne, Severn and Mersey which have been policing the UK's waters since 2003, but a final decision will be taken in the next Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord, said:

"These new patrol vessels will build on the proven performance of the River Class by adding a flight deck to take the Navy's Merlin helicopters and by adding operational flexibility through extra storage capacity and accommodation. They are very welcome."

Notes to editors:

1.            For more information about the Offshore Patrol Vessels, please contact Lex Oliver in the MoD Press Office on 0207 218 1534.




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