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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Dockyard announces job cuts
Rosyth dockyard
Work on submarine refits is coming to an end
Babcock Engineering Services has announced plans for more than 360 job losses at Rosyth dockyard.

It said the 366 redundancies were inevitable after it lost a contract for further submarine refits to the rival Devonport yard in the south of England eight years ago.

The company announced that the job losses would come amid the "imminent completion" of refit work on the two nuclear Swiftsure class submarines HMS Sceptre and HMS Spartan.

HMS Spartan
HMS Spartan is almost ready
These have been scheduled to leave the Fife yard in December.

Babcock said it would seek voluntary redundancies and would begin a period of consultation with trades unions.

Managing Director, Murray Easton, said: "We naturally regret the impact of this announcement, but the trade unions and our workforce have known that this reduction was inevitable since the decision in 1993 to carry out all future submarine refits at Devonport."

The cuts mean a reduction in the Rosyth workforce to 2,084.

However, Mr Easton remained positive about shipbuilding activity at the yard.

Short-term surplus

He said: "Our core ship refitting business is very healthy and with the recent arrival of the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible, and the welcome news of the award of the third carrier, HMS Illustrious, and the contract to refit five Type 23 Frigates, we clearly have a lot of work ahead.

"Regrettably the major refit of Illustrious will not commence until the end of 2002 and therefore could not prevent the short-term surplus."

The managing director added that the yard had secured non-defence work to "supplement" its main contracts and was seeking further projects.

However, the GMB union said it was shocked at the scale of the redundancies.

The scale of this announcement seems surprisingly excessive

Bernie Hamilton, AEEU union
Rosyth organiser Brian Negus described it as a "bitter blow" to the local economy.

"Today's announcement is a legacy from Malcolm Rifkind and the Tory government's 1993 decision to end nuclear refitting in Scotland, favouring Devonport instead," he said.

"What is sad for those losing their jobs today is that Devonport is not even ready to take on the role of nuclear refitting."

Bernie Hamilton, regional officer of engineering union AEEU, plans to seek a meeting with Babcock management as soon as possible.

"The scale of this announcement seems surprisingly excessive and we want to ensure that short-term measures don't undermine the skills base of the dockyard," he said.

See also:

13 Jul 01 | Scotland
Ark Royal sets sail after refit
03 Aug 01 | Scotland
New start for revamped navy ship
06 Jun 01 | Scotland
Rosyth clinches carrier contract
30 Mar 01 | Scotland
Shipyard gets 75m contract boost
16 Feb 01 | Scotland
Rosyth bosses dismiss union fears
15 Feb 01 | Scotland
War of words over naval dockyard
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