Fight continues against decision to end shipbuilding in Portsmouth

Councillor Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council

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Dockyard workers and union officials today staged a march and rally against the decision to end shipbuilding in Portsmouth.

The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, comprising of Unite, GMB, UCATT and Prospect, is calling on BAE Systems and the government to stop work moving to the Clyde, in Scotland.

Protesters prepare to march in Portsmouth today

Protesters prepare to march in Portsmouth today

Waving banners and flags, protesters set off from Victory Gate to march to to Guildhall Square for a rally.

Unions say that the Ministry of Defence should work with them and the defence giant to find ways of generating opportunities that would save jobs and skills.

Gary Cook, regional organiser for GMB union, said: ‘This is about raising the profile of what’s happened. The message we want to send to the government is, we are not going away. By closing down the Portsmouth yard it is potentially damaging the security of the nation. We need shipbuilding in Portsmouth.’

Hugh Scullion, general secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, which has arranged today’s march, said: ‘This is a demonstration on behalf of the shipyard workforce. We want to send out a message to try Tory-led coalition, that it needs to invest in the future of shipbuilding in Portsmouth.’

Protesters in Portsmouth today

Protesters in Portsmouth today

Mr Scullion was one of the speakers at the rally at Guildhall Square, who also included Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, Dave Hulse, GMB national officer and John Ferrett, negotiations officer for Prospect.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We need to keep the pressure up.

‘We have to make sure that the government ministers and the Ministry of Defence change their minds or provide money to be able to bring other shipbuilding to the city.’

As previously reported, the fight is on to save as many of the 1,775 jobs that are under threat, following the announcement in November by BAE Systems to end 500 years of shipbuilding history in Portsmouth.

It comes after hundreds of workers and union officials walked around Portsmouth Naval Base with banners, drums and whistles against the decision last month.

A protest was also staged outside Portsmouth Guildhall ahead of Question Time, when it was filmed there last month.