Glasgow & West Scotland

'No redundancies' over frigate 'delays'

Type 26 frigate Image copyright BAE
Image caption The Unite union said uncertainty over the timetable for the frigates was causing "real problems"

There will be no redundancies as a result of uncertainty over the timetable to build eight Type 26 frigates on the Clyde, unions have insisted.

It comes after the chief executive for equipment at the Ministry of Defence told a Commons committee there was no start date for building the fleet.

The SNP said the situation meant the project was "delayed indefinitely".

However, Duncan McPhee from Unite said the contract was still guaranteed.

He told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "There is guarantees. The guarantees are that the eight ships will be built on the Clyde, we've had that confirmed. The main issue is the timetable, which is causing us the real problems and that has to be sorted out as soon as possible."

The UK government confirmed in its Strategic Defence and Security Review in November 2015 that eight Type 26 frigates would be built for the Royal Navy at BAE's Govan and Scotstoun yards on the Clyde.

Image caption The new frigates are due to be built at the Govan and Scotstoun yards on the Clyde

Mr McPhee said BAE bosses were in negotiations with officials at the MoD to resolve the timetable issues and that a "political decision" was needed to "reinstate money" to the programme.

He said: "It means for jobs that we have the workforce geared up for this programme and that workforce will remain.

"It means that we are going to have to do a lot of things between the company and moving different work packages about, keeping people at Rosyth maybe for longer working on the aircraft carriers, maybe having to transfer people down to Barrow for the submarine programme so we will keep the jobs.

He added: "The one thing that the trade unions will not be accepting in the workforce is any redundancies. We've been through our redundancy programme and we won't entertain any more of that."

Former first sea lord Admiral Lord West last month told the House of Commons Defence Committee that the project had been put back from 2016 because "there's almost no money available this year, and we are really strapped next year".

In a Twitter exchange with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson over the issue, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the lack of a clear timetable for the order was a "disgraceful betrayal" of Clyde shipyard workers.

She said the delay was in sharp contrast to the commitments given during the Scottish independence referendum campaign when then Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said only a vote to remain in the UK would guarantee the shipyard jobs.

However, Ms Davidson retorted that an independent Scotland had no plans to build any frigates on the Clyde.

The Ministry of Defence has denied that a shortage of money is behind delays in the construction of the frigates. They said no start date had been agreed because design of the warships was only 60% complete.

Manufacturing base

A spokesman said: "The UK government is committed to building ships on the Clyde and to the Type 26 programme.

"Over the next decade, we will spend around £8bn on Royal Navy warships and, because Scotland voted to remain part of the UK in 2014, it will continue to be an important manufacturing base for them."

Brendan O'Hara, the SNP's defence spokesman, said the situation would bring "no comfort to the workers on the Clyde who now look like they are facing an indefinite delay".

"This latest blow to the Type 26 programme is an absolute disgrace." He added.

Scottish Labour's Ian Murray said it was important that new Prime Minister Theresa May keeps the promises made by her predecessor.

The MP, who is his party's Westminster spokesman, added: "Scottish Labour will continue to push for these jobs to come to Glasgow on time and in full, as originally promised."

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