MoD responds to Prospect concerns over defence shipbuilding

Government response to defence shipbuilding concerns offer little comfort to workers

Government's response to union concerns about the cancellation of the Type 31e Frigate and offshoring the contract for the Fleet Solid Support ships (FSS) is inadequate

Bow of aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth while sailing

Stuart Andrew MP Minister for Defence Procurement, has responded to defence unions about the cancellation of the Type 31e Frigate and offshoring procurement of the Fleet Solid Support ships (FSS).

Although the minister reiterates the government's desire to have the Type 31e frigates in service by 2023, he gave no indication as to how the problems caused the premature cancellation of the procurement will be resolved.

The response also says that the government will continue with its plan to offshore the contract for the FSS vessels.

The letter indicates that the 31e procurement was stopped because "an insufficient number of compliant bids had been received from industry". But says that "it is for industry to develop innovative competitive bids for all our future ship procurement".

Richard Hardy, Prospect national secretary for Scotland and Ireland said: "We appreciate that the minister took the time to respond to our letter, but it seems contradictory to say that the procurement was stopped because there weren't enough bids and then simply expect industry to resolve the issue.

"While the government waits for industry to solve the shortage of skilled workers, many Prospect members are losing their jobs in British shipyards for lack of work. More than 200 jobs have gone at Rosyth alone in recent months.

"If we don't see action soon, the government may have to procure all its vessels offshore for want of a British yard capable of building warships," Hardy added.

"We also fundamentally disagree with the government that the FSS vessels are not warships. They will have sophisticated weapons handling systems to enable them to support and resupply Royal navy carrier groups at sea.

"Do we really want to place this technology in the hands of offshore constructors?" Hardy concluded.

Prospect is calling for a fair deal for defence workers and for the government to recognise the need to invest in and retain a trained workforce across British shipyards.

The union will continue to lobby politicians across the political spectrum on why defence jobs matter.