BAE should postpone redundancies before Scottish independence vote, says Labour

HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, has the F and G ring sections joined together at BAE Systems' shipbuilding bay within Portsmouth Naval Base.
HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, has the F and G ring sections joined together at BAE Systems' shipbuilding bay within Portsmouth Naval Base.
Picture: Isle of Wight Radio/PA Wire

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REDUNDANCIES at BAE should be postponed until the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum is known, Portsmouth’s Labour party leader has said.

Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidates are calling on the firm to postpone the redundancies at its city facility.

Shipbuilding was moved to Scotland, as announced in November last year, with the loss of 900 jobs.

Labour’s shadow defence secretary, Vernon Coaker met councillor John Ferrett, Labour’s prospective candidate for Portsmouth North and Sue Castillon, the party’s choice for Portsmouth South.

Sue said: ‘I know from meeting local residents how concerned they are about the proposal to end shipbuilding in our city.

‘Unfortunately, they have not had a voice in parliament since the closure was announced so it was important for us to let the shadow defence secretary know the devastating impact of making workers redundant at this time.

‘Indeed, it would be madness to effectively close the yard by September just at the point where Scotland may vote for independence.’

Cllr Ferrett, Labour party leader in Portsmouth, said: ‘I stressed the importance of the government and BAE Systems working together to find a way to retain as many workers as possible until the future use of the shipbuilding facility has been determined.’

Mr Coaker listened to their concerns and said he would pass them on but added the decision has been made and the focus should be on ensuring the shipyard retains a skilled jobs base.

A spokesperson for BAE said: ‘We continue to keep all our political stakeholders informed of our work to explore all potential opportunities to mitigate job losses.

‘We have made positive progress in supporting employees to retrain or redeploy to alternative roles within BAE Systems and to find roles with external companies wherever possible.’