A petition signed by more than 8,000 people calling on the government to secure future shipbuilding work at the threatened Appledore shipyard will be handed in at the House of Commons tomorrow (Tuesday 30 October).

A delegation from Unite the union and the GMB will hand in the petition to the Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox tomorrow. A copy of the petition will also be sent to defence secretary Gavin Williamson.

The petition comes as fears mount about the future of Appledore, which employs 200 workers following media reports that the owner engineering giant Babcock International is poised to shut the 163-year-old Devon shipyard.

The latest chapter in the campaign follows the successful march and rally in Bideford on Saturday (27 October) when an estimated 500 people took part in one of the biggest such events in Devon in recent times.

Unite regional officer Heathcliffe Pettifer said: “Following the very successful turnout on Saturday, we are taking the campaign to the House of Commons tomorrow when we will present the petition signed by more than 8,000 people to local MP Geoffrey Cox.

“We also hope to give a copy to the office of defence secretary Gavin Williamson who has it within his power to save this historic shipyard with its workforce of 200 skilled manufacturing jobs.

“The impact on the Devon economy will be widespread, devastating and enduring, if the yard closes.

“We are still demanding that serious questions need to be asked of the top management of Babcock International, following a damning report by Boatman Capital Research highlighting the toxic relationship between the company and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

“Our members’ jobs should not be sacrificed because of the apparent incompetence of senior executives at Babcock International.”

The Unite delegation is also scheduled to meet Labour shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith and Wayne David, shadow defence minister (armed forces and defence procurement).

The situation at Appledore has come to a head after the recent loss of a contract to Italian yard Fincantieri.

Earlier this month, Unite said the government’s continual lack of commitment to building ships for the Royal Navy threatens ‘to shipwreck’ the future of Appledore and also the Harland & Wolff yard in Belfast.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

The Unite delegation will be available for interviews and photos at Old Palace Yard SW1P 3JY between 12.00-12.15 tomorrow, opposite the House of Commons.

The petition is due to be handed to Geoffrey Cox MP from 13.00.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065

  • Unite represents workers in Britain and Ireland with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.