Plan to share out workload
Shipyard alarm grows over frigate uncertainty
Impression of Type 31e frigates
Shipyard workers on the Clyde are again facing some uncertainty as the UK government plans to put the building of the next generation of frigates out to tender.
UK Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon was expected to confirm speculation at the weekend that he will invite tenders for the Type 31e vessels rather than place orders with BAE Systems on the Clyde.
This will share out the workload across the UK in accordance with recommendations in the review by former Harland & Wolff boss Sir John Parker.
Opposition parties and unions were alarmed by the implications outlined in the long-delayed National Shipbuilding Strategy. The SNP accused Sir Michael of breaking promises to the Clyde yards.
SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald said the long overdue shipbuilding strategy leaves real uncertainties for the long term future of workers at Scottish shipyards.
He added: “This has been very long awaited – long promised and is depressingly as expected from this UK government. It is nothing to do with ambition – it is all about squeezing costs to the bone and cutting corners, and still leaves real uncertainties for the future for workers at Scottish shipyards and the communities that depend on them.
“We have been told time and again by the Tories about guarantees and promises across defence – only to find they are broken or forgotten.
“The Tories have a shocking record on cutting conventional defence spending year after year – while continuing with their obscenely expensive Trident obsession whose costs are out of control – meanwhile this looks like cover for yet more Tory cuts in shipbuilding.”
Gary Cook, GMB Scotland organiser and Scottish chairman of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU) said: “Let’s be clear that the type-31 contracts were originally promised to the Upper Clyde.
“So while shipbuilding communities across the UK would benefit from a work-share programme of the type-31 work, this will be at the expense of the Upper Clyde despite its own future already secured until the 2030s.
Sir Michael Fallon at the Govan yard