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Saturday, 23 March, 2002, 08:07 GMT
Naval jobs threat 'could mean strikes'
Faslane submarine
There are concerns for jobs within the naval industry
Plans to cut up to 1,000 jobs at Ministry of Defence shipyards could be met with industrial action.

The National Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, Jack Dromey, said workers on Britain's naval bases would "stand as one" if there were compulsory redundancies.


We will fight to save every job and resist compulsory redundancies. If necessary, there will be industrial action

Jack Dromey
TGWU
It is understood half the job losses, thought to be included in the government's warship review, will be among staff at Scottish naval bases.

Another 3,000 workers are likely to see their positions privatised under the plans.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Mr Dromey said: "We hope that even at this late stage ministers will see reason and put defence before dogma."

Mr Dromey said he wanted "cast iron guarantees" that there would be no forced redundancies and no change in conditions for workers transferred to other shipyards.

An announcement on the plans is due in the Commons on Monday.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman declined to confirm or deny the job losses, claiming it is merely speculation.

'Overcapacity'

BBC Scotland's Westminster correspondent David Porter said an estimated 1,400 workers will be affected north of the border.

Faslane workers' protest
Workers at Faslane are fearful of the future
Unions have mounted a vociferous campaign against the proposals which would see catering, cleaning and operational support staff all transferred to private companies.

The MoD spokesman said: "There is overcapacity which does need to be addressed to get the level of maintenance and refits that the Royal Navy needs at the best value for money for the taxpayer," he said.

"On that basis we have been looking carefully at the proposals put forward by the industry and the trade unions.

"Certainly if we go down the partnership route the interests of the workers will be fully protected.

"We need an efficient and cost-effective way forward now that there are fewer vessels needing to be maintained."

Jack Dromey
Jack Dromey: Vowed to resist redundancies

Mr Dromey said privatisation was not the answer.

He said: "This jobs bombshell is devastating news for workers.

"We will fight to save every job and resist compulsory redundancies. If necessary, there will be industrial action.

"There is a problem of over-capacity but we proposed a positive public sector alternative to use the skills and spare capacity rather than slash jobs."

Ministers had rejected a reasonable alternative in favour of privatisation, he added.

'Insane' privatisation

Earlier this month, workers at the Faslane base staged a protest over the prospect of their jobs being privatised.

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.

Faslane employees have warned that they will move towards taking industrial action if the government insists on advancing towards privatisation.

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.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Helen Simms
"Unions will fight any cull to the workforce"
The BBC's John Morrison
"The unions are absolutely devastated"
See also:

22 Mar 02 | England
Navy to cut dock jobs
07 Mar 02 | Scotland
Naval workers walk out
12 Dec 00 | Scotland
Unions urge Faslane rethink
04 Aug 00 | Scotland
'Private' nuclear base claim denied
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