UK Government falls short on promises to Clyde ship building, unions claim


GMB laments failure to establish a frigate factory on the Clyde

UNIONS representing Scottish ship builders have claimed that the UK Government has failed to live up to its promises to workers on the Clyde.

The government has confirmed today (4 November) that eight Type 26 frigates will be constructed on the upper Clyde, drawing plaudits from the GMB and Unite unions.

However, the GMB also confirmed that this fell far short of the 18 military vessels initially slated for construction at the Scottish yards, and would mean the possibility of a “frigate factory” in Scotland, which could be a site of future training and employment, had been missed.

A GMB spokesperson said: “It’s just a great pity that the UK government has not delivered on its promise to build the frigate factory on the Upper Clyde which would have seen state-of-the-art facilities creating a platform for the export market.”

Before the Scottish Independence referendum of September 2014, Clyde ship builders were told by leading figures in the No campaign that independence would see a drastic cut to work on the Clyde, as the UK would stop commissioning the construction of its military ships in Scotland.

Cut in Clyde shipbuilding work a "betrayal" of #indyref promises to Scotland

However, in November 2015 the UK cut the number of ships it had planned to construct on the Clyde from 13 to eight, triggering fears of a further collapse in orders and a threat to more jobs.

The GMB also said the UK Government had to be “dragged” into honouring even some of its commitments.  

Answering the charges that the government had not lived up to its word, secretary of state for the UK Michael Fallon said: “Nobody is short-changing the Clyde. This is a huge moment for the Clyde today; we're confirming we're going ahead with the steel cut next summer, earlier than expected.

“We pledged a fleet of frigates and destroyers. The first eight will be the Type 26 combat ships. After that, we will be building a lighter frigate, and we will end up with a fleet that is larger than the fleet at the moment. This is a huge moment for the Clyde and work for the next 20 years. It will secure hundreds of jobs on the Clyde until 2035. It is a programme involving billions of pounds and safeguarding hundreds of jobs.”

Picture courtesy of Royal Navy Media Archive

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