Call to defend British jobs

Corbyn: ‘navy shipbuilding should stay in UK’

Jeremy CorbynJeremy Corbyn: ‘We can build ships’ (photo by Terry Murden)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will today call for navy shipbuilding contracts to stay in the UK.

In a speech in Govan, Mr  Corbyn will insist that three Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels must be built in British shipyards.

Labour’s demand comes as the UK Government is preparing to put the £1 billion contract for building these ships out to international tender.

Securing this £1 billion investment for the UK’s shipyards would safeguard about 6,500 jobs and also support other British industries, including steel.

Mr Corbyn is expected to say: “Workers in British shipyards, from Plymouth to Rosyth, share a proud tradition – building the best ships in the world.

“But the Conservative government is trashing that tradition by offering up the Ministry of Defence’s most recent contract for three new Fleet Solid Support Ships to overseas companies to build abroad.

“This decision is wrong. Today we are calling on the Government to guarantee that these three new ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary will be built in domestic shipyards.”

Mr Corbyn will say that public intervention in support of the industry would protect it from anti-competitive practices by overseas firms and other states.

“By refusing to help our industry thrive, the Conservatives are continuing their historic trend of hollowing out and closing down British industry,” he will say.

“Over the course of the 1980s under the Tories, 75,000 jobs were lost in UK shipyards, leaving just 32,000 remaining.

“Our shipyards used to produce half of all new ships worldwide. Our current market share is now less than half a per cent. The Tories seem hell-bent on accelerating and deepening this industrial decline.”

Mr Corbyn will promise that if elected the next Labour government will use public contracts as part of bigger plans to upgrade the economy.

“Don’t listen to anyone who says we can’t build things in Britain and that a casino economy, which produces little but soaring inequality and insecurity, is our only future. Shipbuilding is not a lame duck, and can have a high tech, high skilled and exciting future right here in the UK.

“We can make sure that happens, but only if we reject the Tories’ outdated free market obsession that gives the whip hand to out-of-control multinational companies and doesn’t care about the everyday needs and wishes of workers and consumers.

“The Government claims that it is overseeing a ‘renaissance’ in British shipbuilding. But Scottish employers have pushed through one set of redundancies after another in recent years.

“Our proposal would both sustain existing shipbuilding and supply chain jobs, and create new ones –  right here in Scotland and also across the UK.”

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