HALF of BAE Systems shipyard workers face an uncertain future as they are yet to find new jobs or take voluntary redundancy, figures show.
According to the most recent numbers, 392 of the 940 employees whose jobs will go when the shipyard shuts later this year have been supported for retraining or moved into different roles within the defence giant.
But compulsory redundancies are starting to be made in a ‘small number of areas’ where alternative arrangements cannot be made for workers.
BAE announced in November last year that it would be closing the city’s shipyard, with the loss of 940 jobs.
Penny Mordaunt, the MP for Portsmouth North, said the company and unions have done a ‘good job trying to mitigate job losses’.
She added: ‘I want BAE to explore every avenue they have of retaining jobs here in the interim between them leaving the yard and other businesses coming in.
‘The workforce will be snapped up, but I want them to remain in the city.’
BAE Systems has two main arms to its Portsmouth operation, shipbuilding and maritime services.
It is the shipbuilding division which is looking to pull out of Portsmouth and move its operations to Scotland. The maintenance and repair arm will remain.
According to BAE Systems’ latest figures:
n Of 172 roles already retrained or redeployed, 33 employees have been offered jobs within BAE Systems’ Maritime Services in Portsmouth;
n Of the 172, 93 employees have been granted funding for training to assist in obtaining outside employment;
n In addition, 220 people have been granted voluntary redundancy and are yet to leave.
The company says interviews are ongoing and the number of jobs mitigated will increase in the coming months.
Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock said in a statement he and his office have met government officials, union reps and BAE Systems to come to the ‘best possible solution for workers at the shipyard and their families’.
On the numbers, he said: ‘This is welcome news and we are definitely heading in the right direction but much more can and must be done to help the workforce in Portsmouth.’
A spokeswoman for BAE Systems said: ‘We continue to work with unions, employees and external stakeholders to explore all mitigation opportunities.
‘We have made progress in supporting employees to retrain or redeploy to alternative roles within BAE, or find roles externally, but regrettably we have not been able to mitigate surpluses in all areas of our business.
‘Consequently, we are commencing the process to make compulsory redundancies in a small number of areas.’
John Ferrett, a Prospect union negotiator, said he wanted to see more workers being moved into other roles.
He said: ‘We have been told there are 200 roles available in maritime services but not many people have been moved over so far.
‘We are concerned there does appear to be vacancies but we are not seeing people moving into them yet.’
‘Company is backing workers but more can be done’
Gary Cook, GMB regional organiser with responsibility for shipbuilding, said the company’s retraining and redeployment of workers elsewhere in the business is ‘welcome’ but more can still be done.
He said: ‘There is always more that can be done but that is not in our hands unfortunately. It is obviously a very difficult time for people. Volunteers for redundancy have already been identified and there will be a stage where people don’t go voluntarily.
‘The company are doing as much as they can to try and help people with their job search and re-training and they are doing he right thing by their employees. You would expect that from any half-decent company. The mitigation is obviously welcome but that does not help keep shipbuilding in Portsmouth.’