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Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Unions pledge to fight yard cuts
Shipyard workers
The men were told at a mass meeting
Union leaders have reacted angrily to the announcement that BAE Systems is axing 1,000 shipyard jobs on the Clyde.

Shocked officials have pledged to fight the cuts, which followed the announcement by Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon that the company has won contracts for six new Type 45 destroyers.

The losses will be concentrated on the company's Govan and Scotstoun yards.

BAE said it would try to minimise the effect of the cuts by offering early retirement, voluntary redundancy, re-deployment and help with re-location.

We will not take these job losses lying down. I am calling for an immediate meeting with the company so that we can challenge its case

Danny Carrigan of the AEEU
Union officials warned they will not accept compulsory redundancies.

GMB Scotland regional secretary Robert Parker said: "We are shocked at the suddenness of the redundancy announcements, and of course GMB will fight any compulsory redundancies.

"We had hoped the employer would join with us in working towards alternative solutions to job losses.

"Securing the work on the Type 45s will boost the medium and long-term prospects of both the Govan and Scotstoun yards and should help consolidate BAE Systems' interest in shipbuilding within the UK, and to break into the commercial market too.

"So it is deeply disappointing to have job losses announced on this scale today."

'Severe cuts'

Govan union convener Jamie Webster said: "We have got a good contract and we are appreciative of that.

"We have got six destroyers and I fancy our chances to get the 12 but I cannot for five seconds forget that a lot of my workmates are losing their jobs.

"When we set out to secure the long-term future of the Clyde two-and-a-half years ago, we did not think we would have to pay a price like this.

BAE Systems sign
BAE said it would try to re-deploy staff
"They have announced 1,000 redundancies from a workforce of 3,000, that is severe."

He said: "Govan and Scotstoun stop for their holidays on Friday and when we come back we will not be driven by despair, we will be driven to get the best results we can.

"We didn't get a great result today, but maybe two years down the line we will think better because there is a long-term future.

"Although it seems churlish to say it at the moment, we still have 2,000 workers and every effort will be made to bring the other workers back and I am confident that one or two years down the line we will get a lot of them back."

Order book gap

Mr Webster added that the job losses had been brought on partly by a delay in beginning a contract to build two troop carriers, work on which was due to start this month.

He claimed Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon was partly responsible for the failure to bring forward the order, which was delayed for a year because of difficulties involving the Dutch firm which was charged with drawing up the plans.

He said: "That gap has caused a major problem. It is a major disappointment that we could not close that gap."

Govan union convener Jamie Webster
Jamie Webster: Delays blamed

Worker Gary Meenen, who was among hundreds of workers who were told at a mass meeting, said: "We've been told there is a long-term future but no short-term future.

"There is always speculation on the shop floor - before the last redundancies we got a lot of talk as well."

Jim McFall, who has worked as a trainman for the last 22 years, said the announcement had come as a huge blow to workers.

He said: "Everybody is very subdued, but there are a lot of questions still to answer just now.

"We heard in the last couple of weeks these figures of 500 to 1,000 jobs, but as soon as we heard that figure of 1,000 it was a blow. It really is a surprise for everyone."

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See also:

10 Jul 01 | Scotland
1,000 Clyde shipyard jobs to go
10 Jul 01 | Scotland
Rough times for Clyde workforce
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