Rosyth shipyard job losses could lead to ‘yawning skills gap’, says Unite

Hemanth Kumar 8 February 2019 (Last Updated February 8th, 2019 11:44)

UK trade union Unite the Union has announced that Babcock’s Rosyth shipyard job losses could leave the Royal Navy with a shortage of skilled employees.

Rosyth shipyard job losses could lead to ‘yawning skills gap’, says Unite
Unite the Union has announced that the redundancies at Babcock’s Rosyth shipyard could result in a skills shortage. Credit: Guinnog.

UK trade union Unite the Union has announced that Babcock’s Rosyth shipyard job losses could leave the Royal Navy with a shortage of skilled employees.

Babcock, a UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) contractor, is set to cut 150 jobs at its Rosyth shipyard in Scotland. The proposed job cuts will be divided between manual and office roles.

Unite the Union manufacturing assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Today’s announcement of job losses will send shudders down the spine of shipyard workers across the UK who in recent months have endured the threat of redundancy on the Mersey and the closure of Devon’s Appledore shipyard.

“The fear is that these job losses at Rosyth could turn into a flood and the industry left with a yawning skills gap unless the UK government starts supporting UK Plc by delivering on a shipbuilding strategy that guarantees the Royal Navy’s new auxiliary ships are block built in UK shipyards using British steel, in addition to bringing forward work on the Type 31e frigate for export around the globe.”

The latest redundancies come after the company announced 250 job cuts in November 2017 and an additional 150 in March last year.

A Babcock spokesperson was quoted by media sources as saying: “Today’s workforce announcement is a continuation of the need to right size our organisation.”

The spokesperson also said that the firm is pushing ahead with the proposed Rosyth shipyard job losses following an assessment of its ‘current workload and medium-term opportunities’.

As part of the assessment, Babcock considered the roles as redundant as a result of the ‘rundown of the Prince of Wales contract and uncertainty around future workload’.

"The fear is that these job losses at Rosyth could turn into a flood and the industry left with a yawning skills gap."

At Rosyth shipyard, Babcock worked as part of a team to deliver the UK’s £6.2bn Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which entered service into the Royal Navy in December 2017.

At the time, Member of Scottish Parliament for Cowdenbeath Anabelle Ewing told the BBC: “As the carrier programme comes to an end, there is the real prospect of further job losses so I want to know what the Ministry of Defence can offer in terms of opportunities to bring more work to Rosyth and ensure that these skills are retained in our community.”

Last month, the company won a £5m contract to perform maintenance on HMS Queen Elizabeth. Babcock is currently working on the second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.

The UK MOD also awarded contracts in December 2018 to teams led by BAE Systems, Babcock and Atlas Elektronik UK to develop their plans for the construction of the proposed Type 31e frigate for the British Royal Navy.

–Additional reporting by Talal Husseini.