Scotland stands on the brink of significant job losses

Over 1,000 jobs look to be at risk with the closure of BAE’s system’s shipyard at Portsmouth.

Just weeks after it managed to avert an industrial disaster by preventing the closure of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant, Scotland now stands on the brink of another significant batch of job losses.

Over 1,000 jobs look to be at risk with the closure of BAE’s system’s shipyard at Portsmouth, with job losses also expected at Scotstoun and Govan in Glasgow.

The decisions to be taken have raised concerns that the economic and business future of BAE is being based on political posturing ahead of next year’s independence vote, and has raised concerns about the capacity of the UK to undertake ship building if Scotland votes to go it alone.

Speaking to the Today programme this morning, the leader of Portsmouth council Gerald Vernon-Jackson explained:

“Portsmouth is the last place in England that has the ability to build advanced warships for the Royal Navy and I’m very concerned that with a potential independence vote in Scotland, if Portsmouth shipbuilding is shut down, what would remain of the UK would have no ability to build advanced warships.”

North of the border, Scotland’s finance secretary John Swinney has called for ‘urgent clarity’ on the status of the sites in Glasgow, whilst local MP and Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has called on all sides to do what they can to protect ship building in Scotland.

Calling for urgent talks with the UK government, she explained:

“The UK government is the Clyde’s biggest customer and I will be seeking urgent talks to make sure that continues.

“Govan is in my constituency and also within the hearts of every Scot who cares about Scottish industry.

“This will be a particularly worrying time for the workforce and their families but I will work with anyone to make sure we can keep these jobs.

“It’s times like these that we all need to come together, put differences aside and fight to secure these vital jobs. I will work with everyone who wants to see this yard kept open in the interests of Glasgow and Scotland.”

In its leader column this morning, the Scotsman has warned politicians to stop conflating the decisions to be made on ship building with the independence campaign. Writing of more bad news befalling ‘yet another Scottish industrial icon, the paper explains:

“The threat of job losses at BAE Systems’ Govan and Scotstoun shipyards is desperately worrying for thousands of families on Clydeside, and Scottish engineering more widely.

“The firm’s plans are said to involve all its British yards, and at this stage exactly how many jobs may go in Scotland is unknown. But the mood last night among all interested parties was sombre. John Swinney – the Scottish government’s Cabinet secretary for finance, employment and sustainable growth – is seeking clarification on the scale of Scottish losses. That cannot come too soon.

“It is dismaying, however, to see this threat to shipyard workers so quickly picked up and used as a political weapon in the ongoing independence referendum campaign.”

It continued:

“Not only is this distasteful while the details are still sketchy and workers are still in the dark, it also shows what a bubble these politicians live in.

“Not everything that happens in Scotland – or further afield, for that matter – requires us to view it through the distorting prism of Scotland’s constitutional choices.”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.