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Aileen Clarke reports
"The threat on jobs is concerning the workforce"
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Jack Dromey, T&G Union
"I say, with some sadness, that this is a government which is New Labour but pursuing old ideology"
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Tuesday, 12 December, 2000, 15:04 GMT
Unions urge Faslane rethink
Unions warn that 1,000 jobs are under threat
Defence chiefs have been urged to drop privatisation plans for the Faslane naval base and instead set up an agency involving the public and private sectors.

Union officials fear that if the Ministry of Defence hands over maintenance and repair work to a private company than up to 1,000 jobs could be lost.

At a meeting on Tuesday of workers at the Clyde-based site, the chairman of the industrial trade unions, Jack Dromey, called for ministers to "embrace partnership as a positive alternative to privatisation".

He said: "A new defence agency should be established uniting Faslane and Rosyth in a world-beating centre of excellence.

Jack Dromey
Jack Dromey addressed the meeting
"The agency would develop and diversify Scotland's giant naval establishment, winning new engineering and ship repair work.

"It is not necessary for Rosyth to take over Faslane.

"Instead, we want the west coast and east coast of Scotland to work in partnership."

Mr Dromey said that a similar model currently operates in the RAF, where four Ministry of Defence establishments work together with other private companies in the Defence Aviation Repair Agency.

He added: "Ours is new thinking. We challenge defence ministers to explore with us a sensible Scottish solution. We do not expect old ideology in response.

Strike action

"The days of 'private good, public bad' are over."

Mr Dromey added that "crucial talks" were planned between the unions and the MoD and calls for strike action will be put off until national officials report back to the workforce in mid-January.

The MoD said it had invited unions to work with it to come up with alternative plans for the base's future.

It also stressed that no final decisions had been made.

A spokesman added: "Plans are currently being considered to involve private industry in the maintenance of the Faslane base, similar to what has already happened at Portsmouth and Devonport."

Faslane submarine
The MoD says there is over-capacity
It is well-documented that there is "over-capacity" in the dockyards in general which needs to be addressed.

But concerns from opposition parties have been voiced and they have accused the UK Government of putting profits before safety.

Scottish CND has also waded into the debate, saying it has safety fears over the privatisation plans and has called on the government to prepare an economic strategy for the area should the job losses materialise.

A spokesman added: "We are concerned that if private contractors take over this work they will cut corners and safety will be compromised.

"Scottish CND wants Trident scrapped. We also feel that the Government should be acting now to prepare plans for alternative employment and economic strategies for the area around Faslane."

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See also:

10 Dec 00 | Scotland
Marines to guard Trident base
04 Aug 00 | Scotland
'Private' nuclear base claim denied
03 Aug 00 | Scotland
Faslane radiation fears
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