Monday, July 5, 1999 Published at 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Business: The Company File
Kvaerner begins Govan lay-offs
Workers are resisting the redundancies
Norwegian company Kvaerner is to issue redundancy notices to 250 workers at its Glasgow Govan shipyard.
The announcement has raised fears that all 1,200 jobs could be lost if Kvaerner fails to reach agreement with GEC Marconi over the sale of the yard.
Unions had refused to accept any redundancies at a mass meeting on Monday morning and said they were prepared to challenge the legality of Kvaerner's action.
Talks with GEC Marconi over the sale of the yard are continuing but have failed so far to produce an agreement.
A Kvaerner spokesman said: "Following the group's decision in April to make a complete exit from its worldwide shipbuilding activities, Kvaerner has worked strenuously to find a buyer for the Govan yard.
"Despite these best efforts, and the supporting role of a government task force, so far the group has not obtained any formal proposals from interested buyers.
"With an empty order book from early autumn, the Kvaerner group said last week that it now reluctantly had to implement redundancy notices, terminating the jobs of 250 employees on July 16."
"We were hoping that the company would have a bid from GEC. In fact that is not the case".
He said union convenors would address mass meetings of the workforce to update them on the situation.
"We will go back to the mass meetings and we are confident that nobody will volunteer for redundancy," he said.
Mr Curran said workers remain hopeful a GEC bid will go ahead but GMB union Regional Secretary Robert Parker was downbeat and accused Kvaerner of "giving up" on the yard.
"The highly skilled, loyal and productive workers of Govan are now suffering from the brutal brinkmanship of Kvaerner and GEC.
"This is a sad day for Scottish shipbuilding and a sad day for Scotland," Mr Parker added.
But Antti Pankakoski, head of Kvaerner's shipbuilding activities, said the company had no choice but to issue notice of redundancies.
He said: "Considering the fact that all the interested parties have had nearly three months to contemplate their interest, we are surprised and disappointed that no bids have been forthcoming to date.
"Regretfully, we now have no option but to commence this procedure."
He said: "I understand how difficult this is for the workforce because of the uncertainty but I want to assure them discussions are ongoing.
"I do not regard this matter as over, and we will continue to make every effort to ensure there is a future for the yard and the workforce."
If a bid is successful for the yard, the 250 redundancy notices will immediately be lifted.
Scottish Trades Union Congress General Secretary Bill Speirs said the workers should be "congratulated" for resisting redundancy proposals.
He said: "They have rejected redundancies, recognising that they wouldn't just be a blow to the individuals involved - they would also damage the overall viability of the yard as a going concern."
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