Unions launch campaign for next generation of naval auxillary ships to be built in Britain

Local campaign launched to reflect 74% of the public that believe new Royal Auxillary ships should be built in Britain.

The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU), an amalgamation of 5 Trade Unions including GMB and Unite trade unions in the South West are calling on the government to ensure the next generation Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships are built in British shipyards, including local yards in the South West.

The Fleet Solid Support (FSS) order is due to be put to international tender by the government despite an independent survey commissioned for unions showing 74% of the public believing it would be a massive mistake for the ships to be built abroad.

On Friday Unions launched the Plymouth and South West FSS campaign by signing a charter alongside local businesses, local MP’s, Cllrs, Union Leaders and the CSEU General Secretary Ian Waddell and Plmouth Coucnil leader Tudor Evans.

A staggering 6,700 jobs and £285m stand to be lost under the government’s plans at a time when Government rhetoric suggests that Brexit should strengthen British Manufacturing.

CSEU claim that a British bid for the work, that crucially includes Appledore, would be within a few percent of the best foreign bid, meaning the true cost of the British bid well over 20% cheaper – saving communities across the UK from losing their skilled advanced manufacturing livelihoods, and saving the supply chain from decimation.

Earlier this week Unions converged in Westminster to meet with MP’s to discuss the campaign and put pressure on the Government to back the popular position.

Rob Miguel from Unite, local CSEU Secretary said: “It’s ridiculous that every other major country in the world build these ships at home, yet we claim that due to EU rules we must put the work to international tender, where foreign shipyards that are often state-owned and heavily subsidised, and in many case have been save from bankruptcy more than once, can outbid the privatised and unsupported British yards.

If it was down to EU rules, then why do Germany and France not do this? The government could simply designate these heavily armed vessels as ‘warships’ and blow that false argument out the water.”

Matt Roberts from GMB, local CSEU Chair Said: “The truth is that it isn’t even really cheaper to build in those foreign subsidised bailed-out publically-owned yards – once you take into account the total economic value of the work, our research shows that the British bids will almost certainly be cheaper. You can choose either having thousands of skilled workers claiming out-of-work benefits and not paying income tax and NI, and not spending the money in the local economy, or you can choose to do the work in the UK, with our skilled workers paying into the tax system and the economy, and saving on the benefit bill. By doing the work in the UK we will also preserve the skills for the future.”

John Bennett, the Chair of the Industrial Trade Unions at Devonport Dockyard said: “In Germany, their government will only allow foreign bids to make the shortlist if they are at least 30% cheaper than the German bids, due to taking into account the total economic effect of sending the work abroad.

“The government needs to get its act together.”

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