Memorandum submitted by the Amalgamated
Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU) (SHP 4)
Amicus AEEU represent around 70,000 members
in Scotland, of which around 700 work on the Clyde.
Shipbuilding on the Clyde has a long and proud history
and many trade union activists, including those from the AEEU,
have come from the ranks of shipbuilders. The industry has declined
over the past 40 years and is down to three Yards, Scotstoun,
Govan and Ferguson's.
The AEEU have consistently argued for their members
to adopt flexible working methods and patterns to ensure that
productivity increased. This has been necessary if Clyde shipyards
were to compete in the global marketplace of today.
The AEEU have bemoaned the fact that the number of
commercial (unlike naval) foreign orders have declined over the
years and that BAE SYSTEMS now appears to be concentrating on
The AEEU welcomed the setting up of the Clyde Task
Force and is pleased to acknowledge that a lot of good work has
been done on this front. A strategy is in place, which we hope
will secure the future of Govan and Scotstoun for the next 10
years. Nevertheless we believe that the company must follow through
its commitment to invest £75 million on Clydeside. It is
also important that the MoD provides orders for the Clyde.
The Scotstoun Yard, which was formerly Yarrows has
been quite successful in winning foreign naval contracts. This
has been witnessed by the recent building of two ships for Malaysia
and three for Brunei. The Scotstoun Yard has been a successful
warship builder for many years both for the MoD and for foreign
navies. There is, however, fear amongst the workforce at the Scotstoun
Yard that since the take-over of BAE that their work could be
transferred to Barrow.
The Govan Yard has a varied history and has had a
number of owners over the years and has demonstrated that it can
adapt to building a wide variety of ships from container vessels
to oil related ships and landing craft. The Govan Yard has entered
into the folklore of Scotland and is seen as a bell weather for
shipbuilding and heavy engineering and the Scottish economy generally.
The Yard has been pulled back from the brink of closure
on a number of occasions over the past few years but the Task
Force report acknowledges that it has a future as a centre of
excellence for steel fabrication.
Fergusons very rarely figures in the public eye but
nevertheless is an important source of employment at the tail
of the bank. It can employ up to 500 people or more depending
on the contracts. It is a first class shipbuilder and has won
many ferry orders based on its reputation for delivering on time
and within price.
There are still redundancies taking place at BAE
Systems although the number has been mitigated through negotiation
with the trade unions and with the support of the Task Force.
The order book position has improved but we need
the MoD to commit itself still further to the Clyde. We were unhappy
with the MoD procurement policy, which allowed the contract for
new roll-on roll-off ferries to be placed outside the UK.
We are pleased, however, that the MoD awarded landing
ships to the Clyde and we are mindful that there is still work
coming through for the Type 45 destroyers.
Additionally there are MoD plans to place orders
for two new aircraft carriers and these orders should be placed
as soon as possible so that we can end the uncertainty hanging
over the industry.
The employees have demonstrated that they are
adaptable, flexible and prepared to retrain. The old demarcation
lines have come down and the trade union representatives now work
in partnership with their companies to win new work and to deliver
ships on time.
There is an ageing workforce within the Yards and
the AEEU believe that this workforce should be infused with young
people and therefore we would like to see an expansion of apprentice
The Government's Role
We believe that the Government could do a lot more
in assisting the Clyde shipbuilders to win commercial work and
we also believe that the defence procurement systems should be
looked at in order to provide a long-term strategy rather than
As the Task Force said: ". . . the Government
should continue to take account of the detailed industrial implications
of its procurement decision for naval shipbuilding industry design
and integration capabilities (recommendation 8)."
We want to see a holistic approach by the MoD. We
must ensure that the MoD and BAE fulfils it commitment to the
workers on the Clyde.