Unions call for more action over job losses at Portsmouth naval base

SKILLED A BAE Systems employee working on one of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers
SKILLED A BAE Systems employee working on one of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers
Defence correspondent om Cotterill on the jet simulator

The News defence correspondent ‘lands’ jet on HMS Queen Elizabeth

Have your say

UNIONS have met news of a £70m deal to safeguard jobs at the city’s naval base with caution – and want assurances that plans are being made long-term.

As reported, the Ministry of Defence is on the verge of signing a two-and-a-half-year contract with BAE Systems to protect the posts of 100 engineers.

The workers will be involved in the upkeep of the Royal Navy’s six new Type 45 destroyers, which are all based in Portsmouth.

John Ferrett, negotiations officer for the Prospect union, which represents workers at the base, said: ‘Any news that secures work in the dockyard is to be welcomed at this time.

‘We do have the assurance of these jobs until 2016.

‘Clearly, we want to see some of this work going beyond that.’

Announcement of the deal was made by defence secretary Philip Hammond in an exclusive interview with The News.

It comes at a time when jobs in shipbuilding are being lost as BAE Systems seeks to move that part of its operations to the Clyde, in Scotland.

Mr Ferrett said he is waiting on a response from Michael Fallon, the minister for Portsmouth, to see if the defence company’s redundancy programme can be halted so affected workers can find other jobs within the business.

‘We still believe that the best way to sort the long-term future of the dockyard is by retaining some sort of shipbuilding capability,’ he said. ‘We have asked Michael Fallon about the redundancy programme and whether the government can intervene, and Mr Fallon said he would go back to BAE and discuss that.’

Gary Cook, GMB regional organiser, was sceptical about the news.

‘These aren’t new jobs,’ he said. ‘This work was always going to happen. We have got the destroyers in a place where they were always going to be maintained.

‘We want to see Mr Hammond doing something for shipbuilding.’