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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 09:36 GMT
Dockyard workers attack privatisation
ship in dock
The government is to review the maintenance of warships
Mass union meetings have been held at a Plymouth dockyard over fears of job losses.

At a rally in Plymouth city centre on Tuesday, union leaders for Devonport Dockyard criticised privatisation plans.

They said a government review could see about 600 workers losing their Ministry of Defence posts.

A Royal Navy spokesman said nothing had been decided and the review of warships maintenance and support has been delayed until January.

Dockyard protest
Unions said 600 jobs could be privatised
About 2,000 dockyard workers are not employed by Devonport Management Limited (DML) but by the Ministry of Defence. They carry out routine maintenance of warships.

The unions claim a government review of this support and maintenance work could result in 580 posts being privatised.

Transport and General Workers Union national organiser Jack Dromey claims such creeping privatisation is not only threatening jobs but also standards for two of Plymouth's biggest work forces - Plymouth City Council and Devonport Dockyard.

Mr Dromey said: "The navy needs to retain direct control over vital support functions so that it can meet the demands of it at all times, and particularly at a time of crisis.

"But also, our members deserve better than to be told 'thanks for your past loyalty, you're to be privatised or made redundant'."

Devonport Dockyard
About 2,000 workers are employed by the MoD
The Ministry of Defence said: "The review aims to address the overcapacity of warship repair and maintenance across the MoD-owned naval bases and the companies who run the yards.

"This is a complex issue that has taken longer than anticipated to put together."

Bob Hill has worked for the Ministry of Defence at the dockyard for 40 years and says his colleagues are fearful of what privatisation would bring.

He said: "The mood is very depressing no matter when you come in first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

"The mood is there and they're saying 'why don't they leave us alone to do our business what we can give value for money'."

A Royal Navy spokesman said nothing has been decided and any talk of numbers of redundancies or transfers to the private sector at this stage is pure speculation.

Click here to go to Devon
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