Unions frustrated over government’s stance towards shipbuilding

'MORE IS NEEDED' John Ferrett, negotations officer for The Prospect Union
'MORE IS NEEDED' John Ferrett, negotations officer for The Prospect Union

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FRUSTRATED union officials say they continue to feel snubbed by the government in their efforts to protect Portsmouth’s shipbuilding industry.

Union bosses are disappointed with the Prime Minister’s attitude towards the situation concerning BAE Systems’ decision to move work to Scotland, putting 940 jobs at risk.

It comes after David Cameron said during Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday that despite the announcement in November, Portsmouth is getting a package of benefits.

As reported, Mr Cameron said the city’s future is looking bright thanks to the City Deal – which has unlocked land in Tipner for redevelopment – and the modernisation of the Royal Navy.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt also met Chancellor George Osborne on the same day to brief him about the companies interested in relocating to the city for commercial shipbuilding.

But John Ferrett, negotiations officer for The Prospect Union, said the real issue was being avoided.

‘We are still very disappointed both with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Portsmouth North MP because neither have gone any closer to retaining naval shipbuilding in this city,’ he said.

‘They are not prepared to reverse the decision that has already been made. We believe there is a solution here to keep all the work in the yards in the UK. That is what Penny should be promoting and what the government should be supporting, but they are burying their heads in the sand.’

Ms Mordaunt responded: ‘A lot of John’s approach to dealing with this situation is to protest, which is fine, but actually what is going to solve this situation is a lot of hard work, stuff that is not particularly headline grabbing. It’s helping businesses work out their business plans and number crunching in terms of the overheads on the yard.’

Meanwhile, Councillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth’s Tory group leader, got the chance to talk to David Cameron about the future of shipbuilding before a Conservative group leaders meeting at Downing Street this week.

She said: ‘It was a very positive meeting. I spoke to him about various options, and there are things in the pipeline.

‘My main focus for the year ahead is to work with the business community in and around the surrounding area.’