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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 15:34 GMT
Naval workers walk out
Faslane demonstration
The Faslane workers walked out at 1100 GMT
Workers at the home of Britain's nuclear submarine fleet on the Clyde have staged a protest over the prospect of their jobs being privatised.

Hundreds of staff at Faslane took part in the 75-minute walk-out, which has been prompted by the government's proposed review of warship maintenance and support.

Unions are worried that this could mean work being contracted out to the private sector, resulting in the loss of up to 1,800 jobs in Scotland and a total of 3,000 in the UK.

They have given excellent service to the base over long years. If it's working, why fix it

Bill Petrie
Argyll and Bute Council
Faslane employees have warned that they will move towards taking industrial action if the government insists on advancing towards privatisation.

Workers, carrying banners and accompanied by two bagpipe players, marched out of the base at 1100 GMT on Thursday.

They were joined in their protest by workers from the nearby Coulport base.

Derek Torrie, Faslane shop steward for the Amicus union, said the protest had not been a full strike.

"We spoke to the commodore who runs the base and said that we would keep a skeleton staff in the bases," he said.

Employees delegation

"The idea was not to cause disruption but raise awareness of the problem.

"This was a very strong show of feeling about plans to privatise a vital service which we feel will cost jobs and harm the communities in this area."

Last week workers at the Portsmouth naval base staged a similar demonstration.

In February, a delegation of employees from the three bases at Faslane, Portsmouth and Devonport lobbied Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.

They also handed in petitions at 10 Downing Street and pressed the prime minister to put a halt to the "insane" privatisation plans.

'Insanity' claim

Union officials fear the Navy will lose direct control over vital support functions and put serious question marks over safety and security.

Jack Dromey, national organiser of the TGWU, said: "In opposition, Labour said privatising naval support would be insane.

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

"The choice is clear for the government. A progressive and positive public sector solution or the old, tired and suspect dogma of privatisation."

Economic viability

Bill Petrie, the convener of Argyll and Bute Council, said he fully supported the workers.

"They have given excellent service to the base over long years. If it's working, why fix it?

He added: "From the MoD's point of view, there could be financial benefits but the ramifications outwith the base means loss of money being spent in my area and the economic viability of my area is of great concern."

See also:

12 Dec 00 | Scotland
Unions urge Faslane rethink
04 Aug 00 | Scotland
'Private' nuclear base claim denied
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