The Confederation of Shipbuilding Unions have slammed the recently published Modernising Defence Programme.

Ian Waddell at the CSEU (Confederation of Shipbuilding Unions) had this to say:

After months of delay, this 28-page report does nothing to secure the vital importance of UK shipbuilding. The Government claim that the National Shipbuilding Strategy has secured 4,000 jobs, but the blunt reality is that the Government’s obsession with tendering contracts out to international competition is slowly killing the shipbuilding industry. In recent months, we have seen the intended closure of Appledore, with Rosyth facing a similar fate if action is not taken.

The National Security Objectives set out in the report state the intention of the MoD is to ‘protect our people, global influence and prosperity’, but by showing a complete lack of support for UK industry and the thousands of jobs reliant on the MoD awarding contracts domestically, the MoD cannot truly meet these objectives.”

Waddell also criticised plans to tender the Fleet Solid Support Ships internationally, he said:

“Ministers have hidden behind EU regulations to avoid building these ships in Britain, even though our yards are world-class. British shipbuilding will become the first strategically important industry to fail because of Brexit. Ironically, it is the communities in Brexit voting areas like Devon, Tyneside and Merseyside who are being hardest hit. Ministers say they are starting to listen because of the strength of this campaign and because they’re getting the same message from multiple sources and that it is to be welcomed. European Member States including France, Germany, Italy and Spain all build support ships domestically because they are classed as military ships for national security reasons.

It is through the looking glass stuff when these same countries are invited by our own Government to bid for combat support ships armed with anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare helicopters because the Government says they are commercial ships. By simply applying for a derogation under EU rules we can build these ships in Britain and safeguard a supply chain which extends to some 30,000 skilled workers in every part of the UK. It beggars belief that instead, Defence Ministers are prepared to sacrifice an iconic industry on the altar of competition, pretending their hands are tied by the EU while calling for Brexit.”

GMB and the CSEU also published reports last year outlining why they believe the ships should be classified as warships and why they should be competed domestically. The Unions arguments can be summarised as:

  • The FSS should be seen as warships. They are armed and take part in counter-piracy and counter-narcotic missions;
  • The Government’s commitment to revitalising domestic naval shipbuilding (as espoused in the National Shipbuilding Strategy) will only be achievable with a steady stream of orders;
  • Building the FSS in the UK will help protect the UK shipbuilding industry, protect jobs and retain skills: GMB estimates up to 6,500 jobs could be created or secured, including 1,805 shipyard jobs;
  • Rosyth shipyard will have a gap between the completion of HMS Prince of Wales (the second aircraft carrier) in 2019 and the expected refit of HMS Queen Elizabeth (the first aircraft carrier) in 2030, and FSS work could keep the shipyard operational in between these dates;
  • The UK will financially benefit from returns to the Treasury in the form of taxes and national insurance contributions and lower welfare payments: GMB estimates £285m of the estimated £1bn contract could be returned to taxpayers this way; CSEU estimates 20% of the contract cost could be returned to the Treasury;
  • The Government should factor in the revenue that could be returned to the Treasury when scoring bids between domestic suppliers and foreign competitors;
  • There isn’t a level playing field as, the CSEU argues, “many foreign yards are either state owned, or receive significant direct or indirect subsidy… UK yards do not benefit in this way and are therefore at an unfair disadvantage.”

Overseas shipyards who have been invited to tender for the FSS programme include:

  • Fincantieri: 70% owned by Fintecna S.p.A the Italian owned investment agency
  • Navantia: 100% owned by the Spanish government
  • Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME): received a  USD6billion rescue package from the Korean Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of Korea

49 COMMENTS

  1. The unions bosses insist government money ( your taxes) is spent in the uk yet they and their members drive German cars and watch Samsung TVs. The order for SSS is insignificant to uk industry compared to a few % more people buying British.

    I do believe these ships should be built in the UK but I want to know we’re getting value and the yards and unions have a plan to make productivity gains so export orders can be won.

    The unions will happily take a government order then 5 years having made no productivity gains claim again that the government must give yards more orders.

    • This was the whole point about the Parker report, that orders have profits that must go back into the yards and people! The German cars etc, but Government is the paymaster who get the taxes back, unlike the individual who buy those German cars.

      You say the order for the FSSS is insignificant. So why is it a big issue in building them here as opposed to abroad that cost more like the Tides. Building here in the UK where so many jobs and future possibilities come from in building ships, other than the military in which we have a great spur unlike just three types of warship being, frigates, batches after the type 23s, or type 45’s after… years, or aircraft carriers after 40 years or 70 years with real carriers, not much scope is there? Look at the bigger picture! The productivity gain are reported in the original Sir John Parker report before the official government shipbuilding strategy, the GMB Turning the Tide report and Team Provider report. We never question the 14 billion wasted on a system for the NHS that was lost, or the paint job costing 6 billion for the houses of parliament. Where is the value for the UK taxpayer in that?

      • Darren – when you buy a British product you keep someone employed, so that person pays tax and doesn’t get supported by the Government, your taxes come down (or don’t go up) so you benefit. Otherwise unemployment rises tax collection falls your taxes go up to sustain services that fewer people are paying for. Not only that, the UK company you bought from has more profit so pays more tax so we can either spend more on services or reduce your income tax.

        The FSSS is insignificant in terms of tax revenue compared to the tax revenue that could be generate by the UK population buying more British goods. Lets just take cars as an example the UK imports £35 billion in cars alone!!!! knock 10% of that 3.5b and replace in with UK production that could generate far more tax revenue than a FSSS order.

        Your argument on the billions wasted on other projects, then surely if recycling tax revenue back into the economy we should be just creating project for sake of it as the government get the money back, we all know that’s not the case we buy foreign cars go on foreign holidays so the money bleeds away.

        • I am not arguing with you about most of it, in fact I agree. The knock on effect from the FSSS is far bigger than the contract itself. But a one billion pound contract here and there and so on does lead to a far bigger loss. The one billion-pound contract to the UK shipbuilding sector is massive, it is not insignificant what so ever. We buy foreign cars and go on foreign holidays. But “we” are not the government, they pay and get the tax back! Turning the tide have measured it as over 50%, so why you would give these ships abroad makes no sense, in fact, we are subsidizing other nations to do that.

  2. I agree with the unions on this one.

    The government are simply looking for the lowest bidder to build our support ships, which is disgusting. They can’t hide behind EU competition rules whilst also being determined to remove us from the EU come what may.

    If we do leave the EU then potentially tens of thousands of jobs will be taken abroad into the continent; we as a nation need to adopt a policy of making things ourselves again and our naval shipyards should be the flagship of that. Every ship for the Navy should be built in the UK. Protects thousands of jobs and could create even more, keep the skills base and then we should give more funding to defence, specifically Navy. Said money to spent on more subs, surface escorts etc and recruiting the crews for them.

    Any money left over to go into purchasing more F35Bs. And why can’t they be licence built here? Could create thousands more jobs and means we get them faster as not having to wait for LM who have multiple customers.

  3. Why keep a dying dog living in pain!…. we need a proper shipbuilding industry, building cruise ships like France and Italy does, building warships for export, building survey vessels for export. Not a couple frigates every decade! And the possibility of some RFA ships if we are lucky! What is this? Are they deliberately destroying the ship building industry, oooops I forgot they already have destroyed 95% of it why not the last 5%!. We were once the shipbuilding centre of the globe, but our government didn’t help modernise so we fell behind!. We should use technology now to be more efficient and build for export it’s clear the UK government will only build enough to keep the industry dying or on life suport not knowing if it’s going to be dead tomorrow!.

    And Appledore shouldn’t have closed for a start! We could have easily saved it if we gave it work! The guys wanted to work and we let them down!!. Or the UK Gov did. They have to go! But who takes over Comrade Corbyn? He won’t build millitary ships or ships for export , he’ll cut the RN fleet in half! If Corbyn states in a manifesto that he would build our millitary/ Royal Navy and shipbuilding back up I would vote for him, but he won’t, Obviously 🙄 So who do I vote for? UKIP?

    • Cam – Having worked in UK industry in the 70’s I can assure you that the unions fought modernisation in many industries. Practices like demarcation and work to rules lead to massive inefficiencies, imagine your run a lathe and the coolant needs refilling, but you’re not allowed to refill the coolant as its a labours job, so you stop the machine and wait. I’ve witnesses these types of practices first hand. Would you invest when these type of practices were common place?

      • That is true about the unions. Though government could meet them halfway: invest more in shipbuilding, order more ships and keep it a constant, steady stream, then even with modernisation and more efficiencies, more jobs will be created simply by having these constant orders that would expand the shipyards, if anything.

        Also, if government keeps orders to UK shipyards then we can show off what we can do. Not only are we building our own ships and preserving jobs but the potential for export is greater, securing or creating even more jobs… these paid for by other governments who want our ships.

        • Steve R. – Generally I agree, more orders but the Unions should sign up productivity goals. Did you hear anything from the unions on the HMS forth quality issues, no. For me the unions in some industries have never really got the equation:

          More efficiency = Cheaper ships = More orders

          They’re equation is;

          More efficiency = Less workers = Less power

          Efficiency doesn’t mean working harder it means working smarter.

          Of course its not like this across all industries many have had to change, ironically because of foreign competition.

      • Probably why you are not suitable for this or any discussion as you are too clouded by the past unless you upgrade and modernise yourself. My dad is too and he is pro UK industry but there is something wrong with you baby boomer generation who lost us, with your politics and unions piss poor management (older guys), all our industry and I don’t like it! Sorry, nothing against you.

        • I am just replying to your first comment. Don’t get me wrong, I am looking for answers to why we are here in this position when others are not as good are doing better?

        • Darren – I work with UK industry day in day out. There’s loads of great people who are union members they’re open to change. I get frustrated when people play the blame game as to why things failed in the past. What I described happen back then, it was very sad but true. We need to ensure we never go back that, so I think it does have a place in the discussion to remind people where we went wrong.

  4. I agree with the unions on this one.

    The government are simply looking for the lowest bidder to build our support ships, which is disgusting. They can’t hide behind EU competition rules whilst also being determined to remove us from the EU come what may.

    If we do leave the EU then potentially tens of thousands of jobs will be taken abroad into the continent; we as a nation need to adopt a policy of making things ourselves again and our naval shipyards should be the flagship of that. Every ship for the Navy should be built in the UK. Protects thousands of jobs and could create even more, keep the skills base and then we should give more funding to defence, specifically Navy. Said money to spent on more subs, surface escorts etc and recruiting the crews for them.

    Any money left over to go into purchasing more F35Bs. And why can’t they be licence built here? Could create thousands more jobs and means we get them faster as not having to wait for LM who have multiple customers to provide, slowing down the supply process. To me it makes sense to build them here on licence.

  5. If it is engineering the UK government will let it die.

    The reason is they have no idea what actually built this country and still believe “The City” is what keeps us ticking.

    The only high-level figurehead that understands the need for engineers is HRH Prince Philip.

    • There’s loads made in the UK and plenty of components shipped overseas. The UK is currently the eighth largest manufacturing nation in the world.

      • Quite right… A fact often forgotten by internet commentators.

        For even a vague idea have a look on youtube for the bit where topgear brought together all the vehicles manufactured in the U.K. on the mall. I like to think that I’m fairly current with the types of things we manufacture in the U.K. and u have to admit even I was surprised by the depth and breadth of what we produce…

        • Manufactured in the U.K., by foreign companies. That is what we are saying. Germany has Audi, BMW, Mercedes, VW, Porsche in their own hands. France has Citroen, Renault, Peugeot in their own hands. Italy has Fiat, Ferrari in their own hands. Japan has Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, in their own hands. We have zero.

          Destroying your own car makers, train makers, etc. just to allow foreign companies to set up is not the same thing, it is not the same thing at all. Do you honestly think we feel the same pride in a Nissan as a German does in a Porsche or a BMW, etc. or as an Italian does in a Ferrari, or a Japanese person does in a one of their cars? The same with trains, would we honestly love the Flying Scotsman as much if it were Japanese?

          We have to have at least some of our own British companies in at least some of these fields.

  6. The unions are right to raise this and it needs to be understood that the RN/RFA/Coastguard/RNLI/Borderforce all have enough requirements between them to sustain a uk shipbuilding industry.

    What we need is a commitment to the NSS and then a detailed plan. The RN alone have a requirement for 3 major surface ships and 16 smaller vessels each and every year and is not a massive amount of funding in the scale of things (circa £2bn pa). It is the nuclear submarine fleet that take the money as this also needs £2bn pa but for 11-14 boats.

    What we need to do is stop building as slowly as possible to keep jobs but not benefit the industry and invest in it for a 10 year period to stabilise it and get efficiencies, even if that means we are building ships we cant man, at this point in time our floating stock is so old in parts and has been worked so hard that we can retire early.

    Lastly, we also need a strategy for decommissioning the nuclear fleet which is just sitting there waiting for someone to make a decision, whilst getting more expensive to maintain and decommission.

    British politics at its very worst I am afraid, we need a bit more faith in our country and invest in it a lot more

    • Its right this is raised but I see plenty of demands ‘The government should’ but nothing from the unions. Perhaps a bullet that says ‘In return the Unions commit productivity increases of’ wouldn’t go a miss.

      • This can be done within the current budget and is within the current force numbers as well (broadly).

        We need to decide what we want and how we wish to do it.

        Ultimately, defence needs more money – I think even Mr Hammond and Mrs May now understand that.. but we shall see

    • The RNLI have their own 21st boat building centre, and the Border force craft are few in number, 5 main craft and a handful of Rhibs.
      Its my understanding not a single British contractor bid for the Tide class?

  7. Several goods points in this thread of comments. It really is an illustration of the UK government at its worst, with civil servants hiding behind arcane directives and ministers unwilling or unable to challenge them. We are out of the EU for better or worse in three months, so the directives should not apply. Bearing in mind how often RFA’s are used as warships it’s a silly argument anyway.
    So rather than talking to each other about this how about some action? I am going to write to my MP about this, he is a member of the Cabinet although that might not make a difference, and I suggest everyone else does the same. Also I would suggest lobbying Julian Lewis MP, he is the chairman of the Defence Select committee, and he migh have something to say about it.

    • So what am I requesting from my MP, the SSS order are placed at a UK yard irrespective of how much they cost? Where will the extra money come form, should I be requesting raising of taxes to cover it or less for the NHS or perhaps we don’t build a space port in Sutherland or fund the next gen fighter programme, Tempest. Its easy to see this as a binary issue the reality its not, there could be better investments that create higher paid jobs to invest the money in.

      Perhaps we should give up on building ships and focus on other high tech industries that could reap higher rewards.

      • Ship building is one of those areas we need to keep, protect, and grow, though. If we let our shipbuilding industry die then where do we get our own naval ships from in future? We’d have to buy US ships or European ones off the shelf.

        If they’re built in the UK then some of the money spent will be recovered in taxes: corporation tax on the shipyards, income tax from the staff working there, and VAT from employees when they spend their wages. Not to mention that having our own shipbuilding industry means were more likely to get export sales: money coming in from other countries.

        Were leaving the EU, which will result in years of uncertainty around British businesses and industry. The last thing we need is to let this one die. Should be supported and the best way to do that is continuous orders of ships. What better way to secure the future of our shipbuilding that if we could put forward a plan to order a decent number of ships spanning the next 2 decades or so, guaranteeing work for that time?

      • Take the money from the £billions every single year foreign aid budget. We will always have a Royal Navy, we will always need shipbuilding.

      • No ask your MP that the FSS bidding process takes into account the prosperity agenda that being if you spend £1b in Korea it costs £1b that’s if the pound doesn’t tank then it costs more. If you spend £1b in uk with the return of tax NI apprenticeships supply chain shops etc then you get back around 30-35%, that’s why in Germany if you want a Germany govt contract and are foreign then you have to beat the the lowest Germany company by 30% to be considered.

  8. Picking up on expat’s comments, I think yup that you can make two points. Firstly as Steve says there is a bonus to placing an order in UK, the contract will employ a significant number of people, all of whom will be paying income tax and NI, making contributions to their pensions, and spending a good portion of the contract value on their normal daily living. Secondly, as Sir John Parker said in his report, what is needed is continuity in the shipyards. Once that is established you can then grow your marketing to bid for other orders as well. Try making those two points to your MP, and then we can see what weaselly words we all get back!
    Since we are apparently on our way out of the EU it is nonsense to hide behind a set of rules we are about to be free from?

  9. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we should build all Royal Navy and all R.F.A. ships in Britain, this relatively constant stream of work would be invaluable to British shipbuilding. We could have a decent sized shipbuilding industry with that alone. These British taxpayer funded ships should be used to support British industry and keep our people in highly skilled, well paid jobs. With a steady stream of work it will be worthwhile British shipbuilding investing in new facilities and equipment, which will in turn increase British shipbuilding’s efficiency, cost effectiveness and competitiveness. And we will always have a Royal Navy so we will always need shipbuilding, so it is very much in our interests that our shipbuilding is kept efficient and competitive.

    We cannot give away British taxpayer funded ships to foreign companies, France, Spain, Italy and Germany don’t do that, we can’t either. Listen, the decades long war against British heavy industry has to end. We have to start investing in, and supporting at least some British companies in heavy industry, this is what France, Germany, etc. do and they have large heavy industries in several fields (car making, train making, steel making, shipbuilding, etc.). In stark contrast ours are practically all foreign owned, tiny or destroyed completely.

    It is still perfectly possible for the government to give these ships to British shipbuilding using the clause the the N.S.S., i.e. the lowest cost doesn’t necessarily win, other factors have to be considered. I think they might want to be seen to be supporting British industry for once and they will be built in blocks around the U.K. and assembled at Rosyth. They could get great propaganda value out of it if they did. There will be fury if they don’t.

    We have a long, proud history of engineering and engineers in Britain (George & Robert Stephenson, James Watt, Trevithick, Brunel, Parsons, Whittle, etc., etc.), it is something we excel at as a country. A country’s economy can’t be all serviced based, we need to set up new British heavy engineering companies with modern state of the art facilities and equipment to make us ultra competitive on the World market in certain key industries.

    Shipbuilding can be supported by building all Navy and R.F.A. ships in the U.K., we should also start bidding for cruise ships, that’s what other European countries do. Really, it is inefficent to have several small shipyards hundreds of miles apart with the associated transport expenses. We have to do everything possible to make British industry as efficient and competitive on the World market as possible so in the long run we need to build large ships on one site. The frigate factory with it’s large enclosed dock hall should be built on the Clyde to give the destroyer, frigate builder 1st class facilities, most welcome ones in a Scottish winter. The Govan yard is too overcrowded, cramped, too far upstream etc. to be World class facilities in 2019, they have more or less a constant stream of work so there is no reason not to build it. For the large ships (solid support ships, tankers, carriers, amphibious, etc.) we should build a new shipyard in England (Scotland can’t get all shipbuilding bar none), also a large enclosed dock hall (like Meyer Werft in Germany) where large ships can be built on a single site, truly World class facilities which will make us very competitive, we could also bid for and build cruise ships in this facility like other European countries do.

    Steel making. We make much, much less steel than France, Italy, Spain and Germany, and less even than tiny little countries like Belgium and Austria. Something is seriously wrong here and needs put right. We are still waiting for the steel sector deal which is vital for British steel making, we desperately need lower energy costs, tax, etc. to enable British steel making to compete on a level playing field with our European competitors. Here too like British shipbuilding are inherent flaws which keep British industry un-competitive on the World market, steel is made in one place taken 100 miles to be rolled, etc., etc. Steel should be made, rolled, cast on one site to make British steel making as efficient and competitive as possible. Another way to achieve that is through automation. We must do everything we can. We have to increase our capacity in steel making, whether blast furnace or electric arc furnace with new facilities with the above consideration borne in mind.

    If we get the chance to buy back one of our iconic car firms (Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, etc.) we should do it, it would be great to have even one of our car makers in our own hands. France, Germany, Japan, Italy have not sold every single last one of their car makers to foreign companies. Also electric vehicles will eventually take over set up a British company making electric cars, busses, trucks, etc. now and invest heavily in it so when electric vehicles are commonplace we will have a British company who is a World leader.

    We should set up a British company for train making, we will always need trains in Britain so this industry is sustainable, I’m certain we could also win exports, we are a lot better than we think we are as a country and there is no doubt in my mind we could create some amazing products in this field if they would only let us. It is a humiliation that Britain’s railways are used exclusively to keep foreign train making companies go, that can’t continue forever. They couldn’t bear to leave us even this 1 thing. In any case we should set up a brand new one and support it giving them orders for Britain’s high speed trains, freight trains, etc.

    Another industry with a future is wind turbines, set up a British wind turbine manufacturer with modern state of the art facilities and support them with British orders.

    Space rockets, satellites, etc. are a high tech market of the future set up a major British company designing and building rockets, satellites, etc. and support them.

    Etc, etc., etc.

  10. Gents I agree with many comments, however we came into shipbuilding 18 years ago after 25 years in the offshore oil and gas fabrication sector and it was like going back to the 1950s not just the facilities but the management mentality and it hasn’t changed. Until the industry starts employing the right people and listening to them the industry will continue to be in the mess it is. Not a nice statement to make but a reality, the most forward thinking company was Vosper Thornycroft and the labour government managed to get that sold to BAE systems and subsequently they closed most of the yard down. Still the best facility out there at present. The industry is a viable one but the lack of good project managers and supervisors that can organise and get a job done are few and far between, we see it on a daily basis and are continually surprised at how some projects are run or not run, the costs associated with this inefficiency are massive yet it is the same job after job. No one seems to learn any lessons and to improve.
    See what overspend there will be at Ferguson Ship yard and Cammell Laird with their latest contracts both of which should have been able to make a profit but I doubt it very much.
    The industry needs more than just orders to keep it alive.

  11. I could accept the UK buying the foreign made aircraft, ships and vehicles so often based on fair tendering if the rest of the developed world did the same. But they don’t, they always buy their own product if they have one available, and more and more, even if they don’t, they expect us to build ours in their nation e.g. Type 26 being built in Canada and Australia not here.
    We bought our Border Force cutters from mainland Europe, no mainland European government has bought an equivalent here. And why should they? If we don’t buy our own, how can we possibly hope to export them? So when Brown saved money by buying American rather than UK built helicopters, how did he imagine our manufacturers would then sell overseas if even we don’t buy from them?

  12. Load of crap union barons only look after union barons . They have to come out with rubbish now and again to justify union barons huge wages and expenses .. It keeps the useful idiot sub paying members happy . Will all know full well union barons have no loyalty to the UK or the workers and anybody saying different is lying ..

  13. I agree that the FSS ships should be built here in the UK. It will keep jobs possibly increase the work market. What it will do is give the industry time to improve skills making them much more efficient.
    However I do have two issues, one is the trade unions itself. In many ways they are partially if not fully responsible for the collapse of the industry in the 60s and 70s. One of the comments made was about a lathe operator and the replacing of lubricant, I can fully understand this issue, as I faced the same problem myself when completing a project I needed to wait for the electrician to wire up some sockets. He didn’t come so I did the task myself. I was told very quickly to undo all the work as there would be a strike if I didn’t. How stupid, I was qualified to carry out this work and the project hand over would have been late but no. I ended up working all night and weekend to bring it back on schedule just because the sparky didn’t turn up and do his job.
    So trade unions need to use modern working practices and guarantee work improvements. The second issue is Scotland, with the SNP shouting about independence every five minutes can we really give Scottish yards ten years work.
    Finally the UK government really needs to think and think hard, in the next five years the Albions will need replacing. Will we have the yards and skills in place for big ships, if not then the cost will increase. It does make sense to give the FSS ships to UK yards and as they are coming to the end of construction give them the contract for two or three Albion replacements. The yards would have a guaranteed 10-15 years work meaning that they could invest in technology and apprentices to create a skilled work force. In the long run it will save money, create revenue for the tax man and create work not only in the supply chain but if people have money they spend so the local shops, bars housing market will all improve. What is more important is that UK yards could or would try to sell on an international market as the world would see what they can do. The Type 26 proves that the UK has good ideas in ship building.

    • I wonder if the excavation has anything to do with the decommissioning and the breaking up of the old nuclear subs. It would need to be done in a special basin/dry dock as the reactor will have to be removed so it is possible.
      However if it is the SNP will blow a gasket.

    • ref.Heredotus and Ron excavation at Rosyth,was to be Trident refit and rebuild facility
      but this work was given to Devonport to hope to increase Tory voter numbers in the
      run up to an election

  14. Am loving the comments from all the industrial relations and work study experts from the 1970s rushing to blame the Unions for the procurement decisions of the current government and the state of UK defense shipbuilding. There is absolutely nothing like evidence from nearly 50 years ago to support wring headed opinions. The unionised workforce at Rosyth has just delivered the first of the two largest vessels ever built for the RN, on time and on budget (as PoW is also set to be) through a number of productivity sharing agreements, innovative working, multi-skilling, mixed team working and a number of other initiatives common across 21st Century industrial relations. The decline of UK defence based shipbuilding sits not with the Unions but with funding and procurement decisions taken by Government and the MoD

  15. I find it odd that the huge corporations that run these yards have been completely left out of the discussion so far. If they want business it is their responsibility to produce attractive products at competitive prices. It is also their responsibility to ensure they have more than one customer. These are not ‘nice to have’ criteria outside of defence and the foreign yards are in the competition presumably because they’ve been more successful at this than British shipyards. The MOD has single sourced to these yards for years, but we still seem to be in a position where one of the world’s largest defence corporations – BAE – reckons it ‘can’t afford’ to sustain its operations without the British taxpayer funding the whole thing. Why is the British shipbuilding industry entirely dependent on taking money from the government?

    • To put it another way. The government is being told that it has to invest more money in order to safeguard the future of British shipbuilding. The government HAS invested billions over the past 20 years – but has industry matched this investment? Have they invested in R&D, beyond what the MOD pays for? Have they invested in civilian shipbuilding? In civilian ship repair? Have they invested in anything that would broaden their range of products and services beyond the MOD? If the answer to these questions is ‘no’, then it would seem that the companies concerned have made a corporate decision not to do this. Perhaps milking what were assumed to be guaranteed profits is less risky than taking a punt on making these yards into independent businesses. If industry has made this decision, is it the government’s ‘duty’ to fund this set up? Is this best value for the taxpayer? If this is the situation, how will building a few more ships in Britain ‘safeguard’ anything in the long term?

    • To put it another way. The government is being told that it has to invest more money in order to safeguard the future of British shipbuilding. The government HAS invested billions over the past 20 years – but has industry matched this investment? Have they invested in R&D, beyond what the MOD pays for? Have they invested in civilian shipbuilding? In civilian ship repair? Have they invested in anything that would broaden their range of products and services beyond the MOD? If the answer to these questions is ‘no’, then it would seem that the companies concerned have made a corporate decision not to do this. Perhaps milking what were assumed to be guaranteed profits is less risky than taking a punt on making these yards into independent businesses. If industry has made this decision, is it the government’s ‘duty’ to fund this set up? Is this best value for the taxpayer? If this is the situation, how will building a few more ships in Britain ‘safeguard’ anything in the long term?

  16. ref.Heredotus and Ron excavation at Rosyth,was to be Trident refit and rebuild facility
    but this work was given to Devonport to hope to increase Tory voter numbers in the
    run up to an election

  17. If, like me you believe the R F A support ships should be built in the UK then please sign my petition at https//petition.parliament.uk/petitions/235377

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