BAE shipyard jobs cut so workers march in protest
The second rally has taken place in Portsmouth to protest against job cuts that are being brought about by BAE’s decision to end shipbuilding in the historic naval city. More than 900 workers will lose their jobs when the cuts are made. The first march had 200 demonstrators with placards, this second march and rally began at Victory Gate and ended at Guildhall Square, so Christmas shoppers will have seen the marching protesters making their point in the city streets.
Ian Waddell from Unite said: “Portsmouth has a proud 500-year history of shipbuilding. It is a waste and a tragedy that the government is allowing this legacy to end.” Speakers at the rally included Gerald Vernon-Jackson Portsmouth City Council leader who called the decision to end ship building in Portsmouth as “strategically very stupid.” He made the point that as Scotland has the UK’s only warship building sites, if they’re granted independence next year as many are predicting, the UK won’t have anywhere to build military boats.
Despite it being “clear the company has made a decision,” Waddell still believes that the march had a purpose as there’s a chance that a new shipbuilder will come in to replace BAE. “It’s important to keep pushing the government to persuade them to put in some finances,” Mr Vernon-Jackson said.
Other sites to lose BAE jobs include Glasgow, Filton and Rosyth. These cuts are due to a “significant” fall in demand according to a BAE statement on the job losses. There might be a lifeline for the workers in Portsmouth as the Ministry of Defence and defence contractors are due to announce plans to offset the job losses. Part of the plan includes a £100million investment that will expand the docks so that ship maintenance can take up some of the slack created by the loss of shipbuilding in Portsmouth.