Unions Meet BAE Over Portsmouth Job Losses

11 November 2013, 07:42 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Union bosses will meet managers at BAE Systems today (Monday 11 November) to discuss nearly a thousand job losses in Portsmouth.

A total of 940 jobs are set to be lost in the city after BAE announced their shipbuilding yard at the dockyard will shut from the second half of next year.

The GMB union says it will fight the decision and a task force has been set up.

A protest rally was held in Portsmouth city centre on Saturday lunchtime (9 November). The Portsmouth Trades Council organised the rally at the fountain in Commercial Road.

Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils are calling on the government to provide 'proper' support following BAE Systems' decision to stop shipbuilding in Portsmouth.

Meanwhile, A £14 million package of support for the Portsmouth area has been announced following BAE's announcement.

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is providing the funding in a bid to lessen the impact on the economy of south Hampshire.

The LEP has provided £7 million immediately while a £4.7 million fund for businesses in the shipbuilding supply chain is already in place, with another £3 million for businesses looking to protect jobs.

A spokesman added that the LEP is also finalising a further fund of £7 million.

Doug Morrison, chairman of the Solent LEP, said:

"The time to act is now. We have to respond to the news quickly and positively and I believe with the development of this funding package that's exactly what we are doing.

"Together with our partners, we are looking to give local people and businesses the tools they need to pick themselves up and create new opportunities. It's an investment in the economy of tomorrow and I am confident that this funding will be just the start of the help we can offer.''

Professor Graham Galbraith, vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, said that the university would act to support and retrain those affected by the job losses. He said:

"The University of Portsmouth regrets the decision to bring to an end shipbuilding in Portsmouth and the resultant loss of highly skilled jobs. This news is particularly difficult for the staff and their families who are directly affected, as well as for those regional businesses which supply the industry.

"As a major partner in the city and in the region, the University of Portsmouth is committed to supporting economic growth and is actively seeking ways to support the re-skilling of affected workers and encourage new business start-ups.

"I am confident the city will be resilient in its response to this decision to end shipbuilding in the dockyard. With strong partnerships across the region, and appropriate development support from government, Portsmouth has the capacity and the ingenuity to harness its skills and continue to thrive as a vibrant and economically strong city.''

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said he was not satisfied with the Government's pledge of support. He said:

"The £100 million announced by the Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, does not look as if it includes any new money.

"It's all money that has been announced before to support the carriers coming to Portsmouth. Therefore, we want proper support in terms of lessening the impact of this decision.

"Portsmouth remains the home of the Royal Navy, with more than 10,000 jobs remaining in the dockyard.''

David Williams, chief executive of the council, said:

"This decision is a major blow to Portsmouth and the surrounding area. The affected people will need help immediately.

"We urge Government to provide substantial funding to support affected workers as soon as possible.

"Over the last year we have been working on a joint Portsmouth-Southampton City Deal with Government, which would give the area more power over its economic future. But this week's issue goes beyond any City Deal.

"We need immediate support from Government to help affected workers. We want to make sure it is used to keep vital skills in the area, help skilled people transfer to other jobs or enable workers to retrain for the engineering jobs of the future.

"But it's important to point out that Portsmouth and the wider Solent area are not facing decline. There is huge investment coming into the area - £1 billion into Portsmouth alone - and major regeneration taking place. The dockyard will remain a massive employer with a crucial role in servicing and supporting naval ships.''

Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council, said:

"This decision is also important for the wider area, as the dockyard supports thousands of jobs across the Solent.

"We will be doing everything in our power to make sure there is proper support for the workers affected, building on our recent experience with Ford in Southampton.''

An announcement on the Portsmouth-Southampton bid for a City Deal, made by the two city councils and the LEP, is expected early next week. City Deals are where two cities join together to try to improve their local economies and take power back from the government to allow them to make their own decisions on local funding matters.