The government’s obsession with putting Royal fleet auxiliary ships out to international tender and delays to the Type 31e frigate risk thousands of good skilled jobs and irreplaceable knowledge being lost for a generation, Britain’s largest manufacturing union, Unite warned today (Thursday 7 February), after Babcock announced around 150 redundancies at its Rosyth shipyard.

Describing the news as a kick in the teeth for the Scottish economy and a world class workforce that had worked tirelessly to build the UK’s two new aircraft carriers, Unite called on the UK government to guarantee that the Royal Navy’s new auxiliary ships would be built in UK shipyards using British steel.

A failure to do so would be viewed as a betrayal of not just UK shipbuilding and the country’s wider manufacturing sector, but communities that have supported naval shipbuilding for generations at a time of heightened Brexit uncertainty, Unite went on to warn.

Commenting, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner said: “The men and women whose skills built the UK’s two new world leading aircraft carriers at Rosyth are at risk of being lost for a generation in a blow to the Scottish economy and UK shipbuilding.

“Today’s announcement of job losses will send shudders down the spine of shipyard workers across the UK who in recent months have endured the threat of redundancy on the Mersey and the closure of Devon’s Appledore shipyard.

“The fear is that these job losses at Rosyth could turn into a flood and the industry left with a yawning skills gap unless the UK government starts supporting UK Plc by delivering on a shipbuilding strategy that guarantees the Royal Navy’s new auxiliary ships are block built in UK shipyards using British steel, in addition to bringing forward work on the Type 31e frigate for export around the globe.

“It would be a gross betrayal of a skilled workforce and British manufacturing if the government continued with its obsession to award such work to overseas shipyards and deny manufacturing and communities in the UK the economic benefits that building the Royal fleet auxiliary ships would bring.”

Unite regional officer Bob MacGregor added: “News of job losses is a bitter pill for a loyal workforce that’s worked hard and diligently to deliver the UK’s biggest ever warships for the Royal Navy.

“Unite will be supporting our members who are affected by this announcement while pressing the company to explore redeployment opportunities to keep job losses to a minimum.

“Unite will also be seeking an urgent meeting with the Scottish government to see what pressure it can bring to bear on the government in Westminster to save jobs by securing guarantees that the Royal fleet auxiliary vessels will be built in the UK and the delays to the Type 31e frigate programme lifted.”


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

Notes to editors:

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