Naval shipbuilding helping to keep the economy afloat

THE importance of naval shipbuilding to the Scottish economy has been highlighted in new research that shows the industry supports almost 10,000 jobs and £267 million in wages.

About 6,000 shipyard workers at BAE Systems yards Upper Clyde receive a total of £162 million in wages a year, with almost 4,000 jobs and £105m in wages supported by the Rosyth dockyard in Fife, the study by the GMB union found. The findings also stress the need for the UK Government to deliver the type-26 frigate programme, said the union.

GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith said: “This report was commissioned following the delays to the type-26 programme and because of the long-term frustrations felt by our members across the sector after years of being used as a political football.

“One job on the Upper Clyde alone supports an additional 1.18 jobs across Scotland. So for the future of Scottish shipbuilding and our long-term economic prosperity it is imperative that the UK Government makes good on the promised frigate programme.

“Furthermore, and with a second independence referendum a real possibility, the Scottish Government needs to demonstrate to our members how they would plan to sustain their jobs, wages, pensions, skills and local communities without MoD investment. “This report is a reality check and shows that the fragile Scottish economy cannot do without the thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of pounds in wages supported by navy shipbuilding contracts.”

The figures were released just three months after a former Labour defence minister said that workers on the River Clyde will not be cutting steel on navy frigates in 2016 because the Ministry of Defence has run out of cash. Lord West of Spithead, a former head of the navy, also accused Conservative ministers of being “economical” with the truth and said they had delayed building at least eighttype-26 warships as there was “not enough money”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that Clyde shipyard workers would be victims of a betrayal if delays in Royal Navy orders lead to redundancies. The UK Government has insisted that the ships will still be constructed at BAE Systems’ facilities on the Clyde. But ministers have refused to confirm when
.Speaking in June, Lord West said: “There is almost no extra money available this year and we are really strapped next year.

“The Government are not coming clean about that. We have run out of money effectively. Therefore they have pushed this programme to the right.”

Duncan McPhee, Unite manual convener at Scotstoun, told the Defence Committee in June that further delays to the type-26 programme could be a “catastrophic” blow for jobs.

HMS Forth, a new offshore patrol vessel built at Scotstoun for the navy, entered the water for the first time almost three weeks ago, is one of three warships being built on the Clyde as part of a £348m contract.

Source : Scotland Herald

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