The need for the government to secure future shipbuilding work at the threatened Appledore shipyard will be the key demand at a rally in Bideford, Devon on Saturday (27 October).

Fears are growing about the future of Appledore which employs 200 workers, following media reports that the owners, engineering giant Babcock International is poised to shut the 163-year-old shipyard.

Unite the union, which is organising the march and demo with the GMB union, called for ‘a grown up conversation’ about Appledore and the urgent need for the government to step in with shipbuilding orders for the Royal Navy.

Several hundred demonstrators are expected at the protest starting at Jubilee Square at 10.30 and then marching to Victoria Park where the rally will be addressed by speakers from the trade unions and local councillors.

Unite regional officer responsible for Appledore Heathcliffe Pettifer said: “We are expecting an excellent turnout on Saturday as people strongly protest at the threat to close this historic shipyard with the possible loss of 200 skilled manufacturing jobs.

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

“Ministers have it in their power to award naval shipbuilding orders to Appledore - and they should listen to and act on the concerns of the West Country. We need to have a grown up conversation about Appledore’s future.

“Serious questions need to be asked of the top management of Babcock International, following a damning report by the 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 unions have organised a petition with more than 7,000 signatures calling for the yard to be saved. It is planned to present the petition to defence secretary Gavin Williamson, and Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox, early in November.

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.


Notes to editors:

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.