Buy time by building one new navy ship in Portsmouth – union

A Merlin helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has been training with HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth Naval Base as part of her Rotary Wing Trials

Helicopter puts flight deck crew through its paces

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UNIONS have reacted furiously to the closure of Portsmouth’s shipyard and are meeting today to discuss what comes next.

The GMB union will have talks with its members about what action they could take in the wake of a potential loss of 940 jobs in the city.

While a political debate rages on, unions are preparing to challenge the job losses and are looking for guidance from their members ahead of talks with BAE Systems next week.

Gary Cook is the regional organiser with responsibility for shipbuilding at GMB.

Mr Cook told The News: ‘We don’t see this as a fait accompli, despite MPs being about as useful as neutered cats.

‘We’re having a meeting tomorrow where we are going to feed back the feelings of the workforce and to see what appetite there is to start a campaign for the return of shipbuilding.

‘We feel angry, and frustrated, and most of all betrayed.

‘Had the announcement been the other way around and Scotland’s shipyards closed, they would not be sitting around doing nothing, and neither should we.

‘We need to grow a backbone and get active.’

Mr Cook also supported calls for one of the three new offshore patrol vessels planned to be built for the Royal Navy to be constructed in Portsmouth.

As reported in The News, city leaders had called on the Ministry of Defence to order three new OPVs to safeguard Portsmouth shipbuilding jobs during an impending gap in orders.

But the announcement on Wednesday instead brought tidings that while the ships would be built, they would be put together in Scotland, not Portsmouth.

Mr Cook added: ‘With the OPVs, it should be two for Scotland and one for Portsmouth.

‘They should be shared proportionally.

‘It’s about protecting these skilled jobs.’