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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 16:39 GMT
Naval dock workers petition Blair
The demonstration
Dock workers in Portsmouth protesting over the plans
Defence workers have appealed to the Prime Minister not to go ahead with privatisation of naval jobs - a move they describe as "insane".

A delegation of employees from naval bases in Portsmouth and Devonport as well as Faslane and Coulport in Scotland handed in petitions at 10 Downing Street as part of a campaign to keep work within the public sector.

Workers fear they will lose their jobs if the work passes to the private sector.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) insisted that a change in working practices was necessary to provide the best value for money to taxpayers.

It seems increasingly that the government is infatuated with rich men, bestowing miraculous qualities on the private sector and believing that chief executives walk on water

Union letter to Tony Blair
Hundreds of workers have already protested against the proposals at several of the bases.

Private companies already operate at the UK's bases, working alongside teams employed directly by the MoD.

Jack Dromey, national organiser of the Transport and General Workers Union, said: "In opposition, Labour said privatising naval support would be insane.

"This insanity now threatens the biggest privatisation in the MoD for 25 years."

Unions said in a letter to the Prime Minister: "It seems increasingly to those that we represent that the Government is infatuated with rich men, bestowing miraculous qualities on the private sector and believing that chief executives walk on water."

A spokesman for the MoD said: "Privatisation is not going to be imposed - we are looking at working in partnership with the dockyards and are looking at proposals from the unions themselves to make value for money savings.

"Given the substantial over-capacity that exists at present in the dockyards getting value for money is paramount."

Union leaders will meet Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon on Tuesday to discuss a government review of warship maintenance and support, which they fear is aimed at making savings of millions of pounds.

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See also:

22 Jan 02 | England
Naval dockworkers stage protest
04 Dec 01 | England
Dockyard unions fear job losses
03 Aug 01 | Scotland
Dockyard announces job cuts
12 Dec 00 | Scotland
Unions urge Faslane rethink
14 Nov 00 | Scotland
Unions worry over dock jobs
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