More Than 300 BAE Workers Stage Protest
17 November 2013, 07:26
Defiant workers have staged a protest march against defence giant BAE Systems' announcement to stop shipbuilding in Portsmouth with the loss of 940 jobs.
More than 300 people gathered in the south coast city with flags and banners to highlight their fear that the local economy will be decimated when shipbuilding ends there.
The march was organised by the Portsmouth Trades Union Council after BAE announced it was making a total of 1,775 workers redundant, with 835 going in Glasgow, Rosyth, and Filton, near Bristol.
Campaigners opposed to the cuts say they will leave a legacy of a skilled but unemployed workforce and an empty, state-of-the-art shipbuilding facility.
Rally organiser Jon Woods, president of the trades council, said more than 500 years of tradition will come to an end, resulting in a huge impact for the local economy.
Mr Woods said:
"Shipbuilding has been a major part of this city. Although this demonstration was in Portsmouth, we want to save jobs in Scotland as well.
"Manufacturing jobs like shipbuilding are skilled and fairly well-paid jobs. If they go, then they will be replaced by low-paid, low-skilled positions that will have a knock-on effect to the economy.
"We need BAE and politicians both locally and nationally to come up with a solution. I'm not going to be prescriptive about what that solution could be, but the main thing is that there is a starting point."
Kelly Tomlinson, the South East community co-ordinator for Unite, said:
"We are working in solidarity with workers whose jobs are threatened but it's much wider than that.
"People aren't going to be earning or spending money, so the local economy is going to really feel the impact of these job losses, not just in the short term, but for years to come.
"We need to retain the skills that have been built up over the years. That's really essential. If there isn't any work to be done for the Ministry of Defence, then let's look at what we can do commercially."
This week BAE Systems said it has held "constructive talks" with union leaders as they start an "extensive" consultation process aimed at mitigating the impact of the cuts.
Last weekend more than 200 people joined a rally, again organised by the Portsmouth Trades Council, to protest against the job cuts.