Ship workers’ union, Unite, called on Cammell Laird bosses to come clean on the business case for slashing over 290 jobs at the firm’s Birkenhead shipyard today (Thursday 11 October), and demanded that the government support UK jobs by handing the contracts to build the Royal Navy’s new fleet solid support vessels to UK shipyards.

Unite said it was mystified over Cammell Laird bosses’ plans which will see approximately 40 per cent of the workforce axed by the end of March 2019. News of the job losses was given to union representatives and workers today. It comes despite the shipyard winning two contracts, worth a total of £619 million, to support and maintain ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary over 10 years.

The proposed jobs losses at Cammell Laird come amid mounting uncertainty in the UK shipbuilding industry with the future of shipyards in Belfast and Appledore in Devon hanging by a thread.

Unite regional officer Phil Allman said: “The good news of Royal Navy contracts worth millions of pounds has been bitterly soured with the revelation of these savage job cuts.

“Unite is mystified about the rationale behind these job losses and demands that Cammell Laird bosses come clean on the business case for cuts which will see the loss of vital skills and undermine the shipyard’s ability to fulfil new contracts.

“Cammell Laird should be clear. Unite will not tolerate the backdoor casualisation of the workforce. Over the coming days we will be consulting with our members on what action they are prepared to take to protect jobs and shipbuilding on the Mersey.”

Unite assistant general secretary for shipbuilding Steve Turner said: “The loss of jobs at Cammell Laird would see skills gone for a generation and be a further blow to the UK’s shipbuilding industry. Unite is fully behind our Cammell Laird members and will do everything in the fight to protect their jobs.

“With the future of Harland & Wolff in Belfast and Appledore in Devon also hanging by a thread, it is clear that the government must and can do more to support UK shipbuilding jobs.

“This must include the government stepping in and supporting the retention of skills and jobs while shipyards like Cammell Laird wait for new contracts to come on stream.

“Ministers must also wake up and smell the coffee by dropping their obsession to offshore the construction of three fleet support ships for our naval carrier fleet.

“This is work that should be done in UK shipyards using British made steel as part of an industrial strategy that supports jobs and communities across our four nations.

“A failure to do so, alongside the continuing dithering over Type 31e frigates, would be a gross betrayal of UK ship workers and regional economies, putting at risk manufacturing skills vital to our country.”


For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869 

Notes to editors:

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