UK & World News

  • 14 December 2013, 7:55

Portsmouth Shipyard Job Losses: Protests

Hundreds of people are expected to take to the streets of Portsmouth this morning to protest against job losses by defence giant BAE Systems.

It was announced last month that more than 900 jobs are being axed, ending shipbuilding in the historic naval city for good.

Lisa Fletcher, a community support officer for Unite, says the job cuts are a disaster not just for Portsmouth, but for the entire Solent region.

"It's not just about the jobs ... it's going to affect the industries in the pubs, restaurants, schools even and transport, " she told Sky News.

According to the local university, for every 100 jobs lost in shipbuilding a further 66 are lost in the wider economy in pubs, restaurants and other service industries.

BAE systems and the Government claim warship building in the UK needs to be consolidated into one site on the Clyde in Scotland if it is to remain sustainable.

And although maintenance and repairs will remain in Portsmouth, the end of shipbuilding is a massive blow to a city steeped in maritime history - ships have been built in Pompey for more than 500 years.

Workers at the BAE dockyard are apprehensive about the future.

Geoff Collins, a shop steward and pipe worker, is still coming to terms with his imminent redundancy. He fears at the age of 63 he will never find work again.

"It's taken the wind out of my sails really, slowed me right up. Thinking what's going to happen next. And what's going to happen for the younger generation with the skills ...?"

But trade union leaders believe the fight for shipbuilding in Portsmouth is not over yet.

They hope the Government will have a change of heart and instead elect for a three-dock solution which would also mean fewer job losses at the shipyards in Scotland that have also been affected.

Prospect negotiator John Ferrett hopes the decision will be reversed: "We believe that there is a solution, whilst that would mean job reductions right across the three yards, we believe we would be able to retain the capability."

The redundancies will begin as the work on two aircraft carriers finishes.

If the decision is not changed, people in Portsmouth fear centuries of shipbuilding will be sunk forever.

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