Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Shipbuilders seek assurances on jobs

Govan shipyard
Image caption BAE has said it favours the closure of Govan shipyard as part of its Clyde upgrade

Scotland's shipbuilding sector is seeking assurances that jobs will be safe whatever the outcome of the independence referendum.

Union representatives from five firms dependent on Ministry of Defence contracts met the UK's Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael, to discuss future investment.

The Scottish government has also been asked for "substantial" answers.

Earlier this year it emerged that the Govan shipyard was likely to close.

Union officials and senior shop stewards from BAE Systems, Babcock Marine, Rolls Royce, Selex and Thales have said there is "growing concern" over the future of shipbuilding jobs.

Most of the work is based at two yards on the Clyde and relies on defence contracts to build new warships.

In February, BAE said it favoured the closure of Govan shipyard as part of its Clyde upgrade in preparation for building the Royal Navy's new Type 26 warships, with a new fabrication shed to be built at its nearby Scotstoun site.

The company, which announced in November that it would cut 825 jobs at Scottish yards, is still negotiating the contract with the MOD and said the closure would help it to build ships more quickly.

'Uncertainty'

Jim Moohan, chairman of the Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions (CSEU), said: "There is ever growing concern by the employees in these five major companies over the uncertainty beyond the referendum.

"The lack of positive and substantial answers from the Scottish government over the past 12 months shall have a fracturing and destabilising effect on the future job security and support required for continuity of an established infrastructure if any of the five major players decide to withdraw their operations.

"Answers are imperative on job retention, skill preservation and investment from a UK perspective in a sector that is heavily dependent on present and future UK MoD orders.

"A similar approach has been made to the Scottish government requesting answers in the near future to help the CSEU's members make an informed judgement of what it could mean to their industry and their jobs come September 18."

The Scottish government has previously said an independent Scotland would still be able to bid for MOD work.

A Scottish government source said the Clyde was the "only place" for Type 26 ships to be built.

He added: "The UK government's apparent inability to secure the future of Govan highlights the hypocrisy of the UK government and the 'No' campaign.

"The 'No' campaign said a 'Yes' vote threatened Govan, but the fact is that a plan for its closure is happening now - on Westminster's watch."

However, Mr Carmichael said independence offered "no advantage whatsoever" to the shipbuilding industry.

He added: "This is a huge issue for Scotland. The workers at Rosyth, Govan and Scotstoun need assurances on what the future may hold in an independent Scotland. We can give those as part of the UK and of the fourth largest defence budget in the world.

"I hope the Scottish government will listen to their concerns and provide the clear, honest answers they need on the impact of independence on their jobs and livelihoods."

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