THIS WEEK IN 1982: Angry dockyard men answer Nott’s call

With long gunnery gaiters and bayonets fixed to their rifles, we see Royal Marines changing guard  just inside Eastney Barracks' main gate. 'Picture: Robert James Collection

NOSTALGIA: They’re changing the guard at Eastney Barracks

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As Portsmouth Dockyard mobilised itself for war furious union leaders demanded the resignation of defence secretary John Nott.

For the call for all-out effort in the ’yard to prepare the fleet for action came as the first redundancies under Mr Nott’s run-down proposals were announced.

Union leaders were quick to point out it was only the loyalty of their men – prepared to work long hours on the carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes – which would ensure an early departure for the naval task force.

One union man said: ‘If we blacked the ships or banned overtime where would the government be then?’

Les Chaplen, the secretary of the dockyard’s joint-union Whitley committee said: ‘The whole affair is scandalous.

‘The government is rubbing salt in our wounds.

‘Mrs Thatcher has kicked us in the teeth and now expects us to bail her out of trouble.

‘Mr Nott is asking the dockyard men to work round the clock to prepare the ships for sea – and at the same time is telling them they are to lose their jobs.

‘He should go and jump in the Channel,’ he added.