GMB, the shipbuilding union, has reacted to 150 proposed job losses at Babcock Rosyth.

The union cited the run down of the Prince of Wales contract and uncertainty around future workload, for example the Type 31 FSS contract, as reasons for the job losses.

Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer and CSEU National Chair of Shipbuilding:

“Once again we are paying the price for the Government’s betrayal of UK shipbuilding.

Rather than ensure a steady drumbeat of shipbuilding orders that keep the industry alive, the Conservatives seem content to let UK shipbuilding die out in the name of the free market.

Appledore is on the brink of closure, Cammell Laird is slashing jobs and now this. When will the Government step in to save our centuries old shipbuilding heritage.”

The Unite union said the news was a “kick in the teeth”. Steve Turner, the union’s assistant general secretary for manufacturing, said:

“The men and women whose skills built the UK’s two new world-leading aircraft carriers at Rosyth are at risk of being lost for a generation in a blow to the Scottish economy and UK shipbuilding.”

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All part of the NSS……………….

When will we ever learn.


The type 31 and FSS contracts aren’t due to be awarded until 2020 as I understand, there’s no final design for either ship. The T31 is a relatively new concept and only exists because we reduced some Type 26s which would have been built on the Clyde. Why can’t Babcock win some commercial contracts? If you’re only going to rely on one customer then feast or famine is inevitable. If you read the NSS its does not say that the government should be the only customer of a yard, the strategy is for yards to win other work. Sir John… Read more »


There is no longer any forward planning. To allow this workforce to disperse is to evaporate excellence that has built up during the QE Class build. The truth, no one gives a fig from the MOD to investment banks about British shipbuilding. They talk a lot about future planning but it’s simply words without substance. The Tide Class aren’t warships, so they can be built abroad. The logic is beyond fiction, nevertheless, it’s still a betrail of UK industry.


From what i have heard the majority of workers on the Prince of Wales were Polish or Eastern European and the unions were well aware of this.


I don’t see the nationality being an issue necessarily, as they still represent a workforce worth keeping. At the end of the day retaining excellence and building ships in Britain, is a winning formula.


Maurice 10,I have nothing against the foreign guys most not all mind you are decent guys but tell that to a British worker who hasn’t had a decent pay rise in 10 years because of companies like Babcocks paying sub contract foreign workers below the going rate


Appledore had the chance of building the new Scilly isles ferry but Babcocks have refused to tender for it because they say they won’t make a profit,all they have to do is move the goal posts like they do with the type 23 frigate refits.

Glass Half Full

Interestingly, in Babcock’s case, I believe a lack of commercial shipbuilding may be a case of being selective in the scope of what they undertake. They seem to be quite successful as a diversified company focused on maintenance, service and support with £4.5B in 2017 revenue, 34,000 employees WW and quite profitable with significant growth over the last 8 years, so perhaps they are not interested in significantly expanding into lower margin, low differentiation shipbuilding. BTW, most of those employees are probably in the UK, given 75% of their business is in the UK. Compare to Damen, a private family… Read more »

andy reeves

i find it annoying that scotland expects to get major shipbuilding contracts, securing, jobs, income and long term stability, nothing wrong with that but it comes at the expense of other yards around the u.k there never seems any urgency to deliver, in fact the production rate is slow compared to similar contracts worldwide the clyde needs to be told that taking orders for granted, will, in the long run lead to contracts going elsewhere portsmouth, in the days of the hand bashed rivet, built the worlds first battleship in under a calendar year, with modern methods and equipment, the… Read more »

captain P Wash.

“Once again we are paying the price for the Governments Betrayal of UK Shipbuilding”

Well It Could be Worse, You should see what It’s like in England !!!!!


Its the fault of the ignorant people in power. People like ‘living dead’ Hammond and the ‘virtual people’ at the MOD. I think its extraordinarily stupid to dogmatically apply free market economics in matters of national security.
The FSS should be built in the UK.

Daniele Mandelli


captain P Wash.

RGR, Nope And He’d build a wall between England and Scotland too. !!!!!

Feck, De Ja Vu , LOL.

“What did the Romans ever do for us” ?


Invented Scotland I guess. Though not convinced that’s a positive.


Since when is it the governments job to provide work to private businesses ? Businesses who’s shareholders have undoubtedly done well out of recent government contracts. It’s the management’s job to ensure a steady flow of work, not just from UK plc but by being competitive globally. Companies get fat and lazy when they have government work available then complain when the work dries up. How many international tenders have they gone for recently ? If they didn’t get the work do they even know why ? Probably overpriced commercial tenders because they are so used to sucking on the… Read more »

captain P Wash.

David, Private Businesses tend to find work due to their determination to Survive all the Efforts of the Government who are hell bent on trying to destroy them. ( Well, that’s the stark fact If you are a Small Business Owner).

In My Experience.

I could go on a long and Intense Rant but It’s Friday. Only one more day to work, then I’ll get a day off.

Unless some Government Twat invents a new Law.

Every Large Business probably started out as a Small one. BAE Is one such Example.


Surely Bae started out as a whole series of small businesses. Sadly whatever I think of the Governments attitude to ship building it was the unions more than anyone who led to its decline and fall. Up to 12 unions involved in separate negotiations when the Japanese only worked with a single one for all trades and each of those trade unions in the UK ran on a deeply unpleasant class system akin to the Indian caste system and no agreement could be made with one re wages without triggering the others demanding to keep their long standing pay differentials.… Read more »

Steve Taylor

I will add to that that full order books through the 40s, 50s. and early 60s lead to complacency in management too. Plus there was little time to modernise. Another factor over looked is that the geography of the UK does us no favours when it comes to modern ships dues to their size.

captain P Wash.

Spy, Yes, But you get my point. All the Original Defence Companies have been “Assimilated” into a few Large ones. for various reasons.


No union has ever called for action because the R and D budget was cut or pace of modernisation was not fast enough. But when work dries up it nothing to do with them.


I have stated this before Babcocks for all their pretence of being a private company are not they rely on the government for the majority of their work,the ethos seems to be more on promoting social justice and employment of frankly useless graduates than actual engineering and is slowly but surely dragging the company down.


would an option be for government to buy 2 large and 1 smaller yard, and run them in public ownership. Government would invest in each with the latest equipment and some automation to drive production economies and make them competitive against the rest of the world. Ship building would be split into small boats (cutters, minehunters, Rhibs etc), medium (patrol ships up to destroyer size), and larger ships over 10,000 tonnes. Each would get a yard to suit the scale of vessel but additional construction halls and docks at each site would be built for redundancy. A ship building strategy… Read more »

peter waite

Government run companies seem to have a high management to productive worker ratio, managers seemed to have lots of meetings without resolving problems. Many posts should have been combined as in outside industry so the manager has full days work. The civil service rule book often hampered good practice and it was hard to get rid of poor managers; often they were shuffled about in different posts. Improvement schemes involved having lots of meetings, charts, outside consultants with religious like zeal. However they failed to solve production issues or parts which were often easy to obtain in the real world.… Read more »

Robert Blay

Sounds like how the NHS is run.


Robert the NHS actually has really good ratios of managers to workforce. It’s also regarded as just about the most efficient health service anywhere.

It has issues, mainly around lack of capital investment, poor strategic management of workforce (why invest in training when you can rob a third or second world country of it’s qualified workforce) and political dabbling, but it’s as good as anything out there for the money we are willing to spend. Hyundai money gets you a Hyundai, it’s a good car, you can,t then expect it to be the same level of car as a BMW.


Of course in Germany as in Australia if you earn over a certain level you have to pay extra dedicated health insurance even if it remains free at the point of use. I just can’t see that being acceptable to the public here. I am not saying it isn’t but I can’t say I have heard anyone claim ours is the most efficient health service wish someone would explain and boast indeed about it if it is genuinely so. Indeed I can never understand why despite being one of the top overall employers in Europe and the biggest health service… Read more »


If you want a good basic read, the mirror mirror on the wall studies are very comprehensive and look at a wide aspect of quality, access, fairness and cost effectiveness of western health systems. In regards to numbers of staff other nations do not collect all the staff figures together and say look our huge oversized NHS it employs over a million people, which is what we do in the UK. Most sane nations don’t actually whinge about how many people are employed in health and social care. I will not compare against the US system as that system… Read more »


Really look at the NHS compared to peer nations health systems, money spent per person, workforce (numbers of staff) management costs etc, dig and you will find some assumptions are just that. If the NHS was a private company, I’d be well off and this nation would have needed to have found an few extra of 100s of billions over the last half century. Hell go total free market like the states, I’d earn 3 times what i have done and the entire population of the UK would need to find an extra 5-6 thousand pounds per year for their… Read more »


The US is a weird one they spend more per person on healthcare yet they die on average younger than any other western country. Clearly there is a big inefficiency or inequity there somewhere.


I have used European healthcare and I would never give up the American system for it. For several reasons: 1. Better quality of care in especially of cancer and heart disease. 2. Never having to wait to go to the doctor or for a surgery ever. 3. Being able to pick my doctor. 4. The fact a doctor can never override MY decisions over my children and have them unplugged from a machine or put them on medication I believe harmful. 5. Not having to share a hospital room is wonderful and keeps you from getting sick in the hospital.… Read more »


I am sorry to say it but that description is Babcocks to a tee.

Richard Beedall

Unfortunately, the rot set in the 1970’s when RN designs ceased to interest foreign buyers, and it was much easier for nationalized British Shipbuilders and later BAE Systems to just overcharge the MOD than have the hassle of winning foreign customers and then trying to keep them happy. I doubt if BAE Systems Maritime would even bother asking Brunei, Oman or Trinidad & Tobago for a reference! The UK still isn’t even trying to play catch-up with German, French, Italian and Spain shipyards as BAES and Babcock are not marketing any “Build in the UK” designs for export, Vosper’s are… Read more »

Richard Beedall

Unfortunately, the rot set in the 1970’s when RN designs ceased to interest foreign buyers, and it was much easier for nationalized British Shipbuilders and later BAE Systems to just overcharge the MOD than have the hassle of winning foreign customers and then trying to keep them happy. I doubt if BAE Systems Maritime would even bother asking Brunei, Oman or Trinidad & Tobago for a reference! The UK still isn’t even trying to play catch-up with German, French, Italian and Spain shipyards as BAES and Babcock are not marketing any “Built in the UK” designs for export, Vosper’s are… Read more »


Blame the treasury for the feast and famine approach to ordering ships. We could have had 15 type 26 for 9 billion if the treasury have agreed a build rate of 1 every four years in stead of 1 every 7 years . And I can guarantee that we only get 6 in the end . It is a little known fact that type 45 cost so much because the treasury stretched the build times and a political decision to use the Aster rather than the proven USN system pushed up the cost leading to the reduction in hull numbers.… Read more »


I understand Treasury is talking about yearly budget. As a cash flow, what is important is NOT total, but yearly budget.

As this is well known issue (to at least MOD), it is MODs responsibility to plan balancing it, not Treasury. As I understand, Treasury gave all the money they promised for T45 and CVF. No cut. They are honest.

Who must be blamed is primary MOD, not Treasury.


Actually the treasury cut the funding for the type 45 class 3 times , the build was reduced to 10 then 8 and finally 6 .
The MoD is not totally blameless in this but the treasury is the main culprit.


I understood no cut in money. If my memory works, Treasury provided the 6Bn GBP as planned, even added 600mn more. Reduction in hull number is just because of increased development cost of Sea Venom?


I understand Treasurey never cut the budget.

Only the development cost and per-ship cost has risen, and no “additional” fund was allocated. This was the reason of decrease in hull number. Completely internal of MOD/RN. No Treasury was not kind (no big add of money), but yes Treasury was completely honest (payed the money they agreed to pay).

This is my understanding.


Maybe another part of the equation is our desire for Gold standard in most things we do, it seems to be built into our mentality from the days when we lead the world. Reality is our budget doesn’t allow for it, and like other nations accept, they opt for a silver standard and therefore get more for there money. Would we rather have one world class billion pound destroyer, or two £5-600 million destroyers that are still highly capable and effective? If each design has redundancy built in from the start, they can always be upgraded to Gold standard if… Read more »

Steve Taylor

The future is special forces from the sea in dazzle cam………

Steve Taylor

More info here……..

For a while now I have wondered about whether this “Point class” ship could be a cheaper home for Sea Viper. A pair of ships in midfield either side of the task group. Not expected to move ‘tactically’ just provide additional cover as it were…….


Babcock clearly want to run down its permanent workforce at Rosyth and concentrate on management ,only hiring and firing workers as workload demands. They want skilled tradesmen to re-locate to Devonport and Faslane where they have plenty of work and not enough skilled labour to do it, But who in an ageing workforce would want to do that.
Babcock would then bring in workers from abroad on short term contracts, The writing has been on the wall about this for years. Hence the reason that very few apprentices have been taken on in recent years


Absolutely right unfortunately the only things the Devonport management team seem to be able to organize properly are gay pride events.

David owen

Welcome to a country run by assholes,ie Tories ,scum that is what they are run down the armed forces ,invest in Portsmouth oh brilliant but Scotland shat upon as usual ,one day revenge will be sweet,quicker we are independent the better,build our own ships and better joining a euro navy than tunnel vision little Englenders English royal navy ,ram it up your arses ,I would welcome German French and other European navies to rosyth to use as a base