Spellar’s Reply To Rosyth “Firing” Plans … Rubbish

Thursday, February 15, 2001
Leaders of Britain's defense unions claim to have uncovered secret plans to axe over 1,400 jobs at Scotland's Rosyth naval base as part of a wider Ministry of Defense shake-up of navy repair services. The government and the company involved vigorously deny the claims. The MoD announced last April it was reviewing its warship maintenance and support procedures to account for the reduced size of the Royal Navy and the increased durability of modern ships. Unions at the time said the review would result in 1,000 job losses and a further 2,500 pushed into the private sector, with the Faslane naval base west of Glasgow bearing the brunt of the cutbacks. However, T&G Union National Organizer Jack Dromey said a secret document obtained by them suggested the Rosyth yard on the Firth of Forth, operated by engineering company Babcock International Group, would also be severely hit with three out of its four docks scrapped. "The secret document that we have acquired says that the 2,200 jobs at Rosyth would be cut by up two thirds as Babcock's allocation of surface ship refits would be given up," Dromey said. Following a union mass meeting at Faslane, Dromey said he would not reveal more details about the document as he needed to protect the identity of a whistleblower. Armed Forces Minister John Spellar rubbished the allegations, describing them as "a ridiculous scare story." "Our work to modernize warship maintenance and support is aimed at securing the long term future of the dockyards and the naval bases," Spellar said in a statement. The MoD said it was working closely with the unions and private companies to achieve this aim. Babcock director Allan Macpherson said his company had no plans to cut the number of docks in operation. "We totally refute any suggestion whatsoever that we have plans to reduce Rosyth to a single dry dock. We have four docks and we are pursuing competitive contracts to make full use of them," MacPherson told BBC radio. – (Reuters)

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