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Tuesday, 14 November, 2000, 16:27 GMT
Unions worry over dock jobs
Faslane
Faslane is one of the bases in question
Union leaders have repeated their fears that 1,000 jobs will be lost if work in naval dockyards is privatised.

They were speaking after meeting defence ministers, who unions say have drawn up plans to transfer about 2,000 employees to the private sector.

The proposals, aimed at saving 150m would affect dockyards at Rosyth in Fife, Faslane on the Clyde, Devonport in Plymouth and Portsmouth.

Transport and General Workers Union national officer Jack Dromey described the meeting in London with ministers, including Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, as "difficult."

Jack Dromey
Jack Dromey: "Pulling teeth"
"Making progress was like pulling teeth," he said.

"Agreement was reached on joint work on all options including a public sector option.

"However, ministers gave the unmistakeable impression that they are determined to proceed with the privatisation of over 2,000 jobs and 1,000 redundancies."

Union leaders said the timetable for the plans had been extended to mid-January.

They insisted they were not opposed to a "sensible partnership arrangement" but warned of a nationwide campaign of opposition if plans go ahead.

Repair 'over-capacity'

The jobs affected would range from engineers, who service the Trident submarines at Faslane, to cooks and cleaners.

The MoD has warned of over-capacity in warship repair and maintenance across the country's naval bases because there are fewer ships which do not require as much overhauling.

The government previously dismissed claims that it was planning to privatise Faslane.

Negotiations were under way with a private contractor, Babcock, to take over maintenance and repair work.

Mr Hoon said it was "sensible to begin breaking down the barriers between the public and private sector".

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