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12/09/2010- Clydeside Jobs under threat from Con-Dem Cuts

A MONTH after the passing of Jimmy Reid who led the famous Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) work-in of 1971-72 to safeguard the shipyard workers from the cuts of the Tory government of Ted Heath, a new threat to shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde has emerged from the spending cuts of today’s Con-Dem administration.

Ian King, chief executive of defence contractor BAE Systems, has said that the Ministry of Defence has asked him to look at different options regarding the building of two super carrier warships.  This £5.2bn contract was scheduled to give work to thousands at yards in Govan, Scotstoun and Rosyth on the Forth.  Mr. King has told the House of Commons Defence Committee that “The programme is for two vessels but the options range from one vessel to none”.  Worryingly, Mr. King indicated that the cancellation of this contract would bring an end to shipbuilding on the Clyde and Forth when he said “If you terminate these carrier programmes, you lose a capability that you cannot replace”.

Local reaction to this uncertainty over the contract was reported in the Evening Times of 9/9/10.  Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson said: “A decision to cancel one of the carriers would be the death knell of shipbuilding on the Clyde and in the UK” and the chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce said: “These shipyards are vital to the city’s economic prosperity”.

The fate of the carrier project should become clearer when the MoD completes its strategic and defence review in the autumn.

Is it not a scandal that the jobs and livelihoods of British workers should be under threat while the foreign aid budget enjoys the status of a “sacred cow” and is not to be reduced?  The countries receiving the largesse of the British government are often rich in mineral resources or support large militaries.  Surely the jobs of our countrymen such as those of the shipbuilders on the Clyde should come first!