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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 17:32 GMT
Minister confirms naval job cuts
Clyde sign
The Clyde will bear the brunt of the losses
Hundreds of jobs will be lost in the transfer of Scottish naval maintenance jobs to the private sector, the UK Government has confirmed.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram said up to 750 jobs could go, with most of the losses north of the border.

The government plans to transfer 1,750 Scottish-based staff to Babcock Naval Services, which has won a five-year contract at facilities on the Clyde worth up to 400m.

The statement by the minister appears to have confirmed the worst fears of unions, who have warned of 500 jobs losses at the Faslane and Coulport operations.

Adam Ingram
Adam Ingram: "Worst case scenario"
Mr Ingram said that 3,000 formerly public sector workers at the Clyde sites and at Portsmouth and Devonport, would see their jobs transferred to the private sector.

The minister said the changes were designed to save the taxpayer more than 300m over the next five years.

He did not say how many posts would be cut at each base, but admitted that a "significant proportion" would go on the Clyde.

The figure of 750 was the "worst case scenario" and he hoped there would be very few compulsory job redundancies.

Figure refuted

Mr Ingram said: "It is up to the naval dockyard companies themselves to decide what the structure of the workforce should be.

"To give figures in a precise way is not possible. However, I do refute suggestions that 1,000 jobs will go.

"That figure is not accurate and it caused most unnecessary worry for the naval bases."

The changes affect a range of workers including maintenance staff supporting Royal Navy vessels, cleaners and cooks.

Derek Torrie
Derek Torrie: "Collision course"

Unions reacted angrily to the announcement and Jack Dromey, national organiser at the Transport and General Workers' Union, warned of industrial action.

Clyde union officials said that when they questioned base commodore John Borley about reports of 500 possible redundancies, he said it was for the company to decide.

Union spokesman Derek Torrie, chairman of the industrial trade unions at Faslane, said: "We are now on a collision course with the government.

"We have witnessed the inefficient mess that resulted from the privatisation of the railways, leading to deterioration in standards of service as well as the way in which fragmentation leads to a drop in safety control.

"To take such risks with the nuclear deterrent is a gamble too far."

'Flawed and biased'

Dougie Craigie, industrial unions secretary at Coulport, said: "Labour ministers must be fully accountable for this decision.

"There should be no hiding behind civil servants, retired or otherwise, when it is proven that this process has been flawed and biased in favour of the private company."

Labour MP John McFall, who represents Clyde workers, said: "I'm bitterly disappointed at this decision.

"My focus now is to ensure that there are no compulsory redundancies."

The Scottish Tories challenged Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell to say what her officials had done to safeguard the jobs.

David Calder reports
"Unions say the decision is driven by dogma"
Alan Mackay at Faslane
"The MoD wants a new partnership with the private sector"
See also:

24 Mar 02 | Scotland
Naval jobs shake-up imminent
23 Mar 02 | Scotland
Rethink plea over naval jobs
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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