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The BBC's Emma Simpson reports
"Govan is the last merchant shipyard on the Clyde"
 real 28k

Mohammad Sarwar MP
"I want to see shipbuilding remain on the Clyde."
 real 28k

BBC Scotland's Elizabeth Quigley reports
"The future looked bleak this morning for Govan"
 real 28k

Thursday, 20 April, 2000, 18:22 GMT 19:22 UK
'No decision' on MoD order
Stephen Byers graphic
Stephen Byers addressed the STUC
Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers has reiterated that no decision has been taken on the award of an MoD contract worth up to 1bn.

Mr Byers was speaking on the final day of the Scottish Trades Union Congress annual conference in Edinburgh.

He reassured workers from the BAE Systems Govan yard that they had a future and insisted the six-ferry contract had still to be placed.

We will act within European Union rules on competitive tendering - we have to do that

Stephen Byers
The yard has been undercut by a German rival by up to 50%, prompting fears that 3,000 jobs could be lost as orders dry up.

The UK Government has been urged to intervene and make sure the contract stays in this country but ministers say their hands are tied by EU competition rules.

"I am aware of the importance of these orders for the Govan shipyard," said Mr Byers.

"The fullest consideration will be given to the various bids that have been made.

Campaign poster
A strong campaign is being waged by unions
"We will act within European Union rules on competitive tendering - we have to do that."

But Mr Byers went on to hold out to Govan the prospect of contracts from "the largest warship building programme for a generation".

The MOD would be commissioning 30 ships, starting at the end of this year. All would go to British yards and all yards would be treated fairly.

He said ministers were well aware of the productivity gains that had been achieved at Govan.

Mr Byers delighted delegates by announcing that trade union recognition would be extended to offshore oil facilities from 6 June.

Yard dominates conference

Before his speech, the trade secretary met union leaders for more talks on the future of the BAE yard, whose survival has dominated the STUC's congress, both in the main conference and fringe meetings.

Local MP, Mohammad Sarwar, addressed workers at the former Kvaerner-owned yard on Thursday morning.

Mohammad Sawar
Mohammad Sarwar: Warning to government
He told them the outcome of the latest meetings at Westminster with fellow Scottish Labour MPs who are lobbying for the contract to be awarded to the Clyde complex.

Earlier Mr Sarwar warned the UK Government and Mr Byers that the people of Scotland would not forgive anyone who was responsible for closure of a shipyard.

He told Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland that he wanted to "keep the capacity to build ships on the Clyde".

"What we are trying to say is that people in Scotland are 100% behind the yard at Govan.

"Everyone is talking about one thing - the future of shipbuilding in Scotland. We want to ensure plenty of work so that this shipyard continues.

"I will advise Mr Byers that he should understand how important this order is for Scotland and the people of Scotland."

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See also:

17 Apr 00 | Scotland
Reid 'aware of Govan's plight'
13 Apr 00 | Scotland
Scots firm in ferry consortium
12 Apr 00 | Scotland
Unions support ferry compromise
12 Apr 00 | Scotland
Yard economic disaster threat
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