Unite, the UK’s largest union representing defence and shipbuilding workers, backed today’s (Friday 11 May) demand by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for the three new Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels to be built in UK shipyards.

Government plans to put the £1 billion contract for building the ships out to tender in international shipyards would be an ‘act of gross betrayal’ warned Unite and rob Britain’s shipbuilding and manufacturing communities of decent jobs for generations to come.

Backing Jeremy Corbyn’s call made in a speech in Govan, Glasgow today Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “By 2020, nearly 25 pence in every pound of defence spending will be sustaining jobs in factories overseas, rather than jobs, skills and communities here in the UK.

“Awarding the £1 billion contract for the design, engineering and manufacturing of the navy’s three new Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships to an overseas shipyard would be a gross betrayal of the UK’s world class shipbuilders. It would deny our steel and other manufacturing supply industries, which should be at the heart of this ‘best of British’ project, of much needed work.

“Not only would it rob our manufacturing and shipbuilding communities of secure decent jobs for generations to come, it would deprive the treasury of tax revenues from businesses and workers alike. For every one pound invested in UK build, 36 pence is returned to the treasury in direct taxation, with much more coming from communities supported by decent wage packets. 

“Theresa May’s government needs to back UK defence workers and our manufacturing industries by guaranteeing these ships that support our armed forces across the globe, are made in UK yards from Belfast to Rosyth and Merseyside to Plymouth with British steel, as part of an industrial and defence strategy that supports UK plc.”


For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.