'Boaty McBoatface' shipyard announces jobs risk

Workers at Cammell Laird Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cammell Laird says it currently employs 663 workers at its Birkenhead base

A shipyard - where the vessel at the centre of the Boaty McBoatface vote will be built - has said 98 jobs are at risk.

Shipbuilding firm Cammell Laird said it had to "address its cost base to remain competitive".

In October it won a bid to build a £200m polar research ship, which the public voted to name Boaty McBoatface.

The union GMB said the potential job losses were a "shock... and devastating news" for the firm's 663 workers.

'Remains optimistic'

A Cammell Laird spokesman said the announcement was "a result of finishing substantial... contracts, and without certainty in the award of similar contracts in the immediate term".

"The company continues to bid for significant opportunities and remains optimistic for future growth," he added.

Last May, MPs called on the government to intervene after the firm, in Birkenhead, Merseyside, said about 200 jobs were at risk because of a shortage of new orders.

Image copyright NERC
Image caption Boaty McBoatface has been the overwhelming choice in a vote to name the polar research ship

Speaking after the recent announcement, the GMB said unions had offered to reduce costs "by agreeing to cut two hours from the working week" until building work on the polar vessel is due to start in June.

Regional officer Albie McGuigan said: "So far, no progress has been made and if we don't get an agreement, notices of termination will be issued on the 11 May."

'Orders don't fit'

Birkenhead MP Frank Field, who will be meeting with the firm's management and unions on Friday, said work at Cammell Laird was "totally dependent on the order book".

"The yard is putting every effort in to gain new orders so that no one is laid off. It's just won a major ship building order which opens new markets for the yard.

"But the delivery of orders doesn't always fit, unfortunately, the number of men and women wishing to work in the yard."

Cammell Laird - founded in 1828 - is expected to complete work on the ship, which will be the first British-built polar research vessel with a helideck, in 2019.

A spokesperson for its owners Natural Environment Research Council said earlier this month that a final decision on the ship's name would be announced "in due course".

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