Cammell Laird on shortlist for three MoD vessels as bitter dispute continues

Birkenhead business, which is is locked in a bitter dispute with unions over plans to lay off 291 workers, will compete as part of a consortium to build three Fleet Solid Support ships. Tony McDonough reports

Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead. Picture by Tony McDonough


Troubled Merseyside shipyard and engineering firm Cammell Laird has been shortlisted as part of a syndicate of British firms to compete to build three new vessels for the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The Birkenhead business is currently locked in a bitter dispute over plans to lay off 291 workers, 40% of its workforce, by the end of March as a number of contracts come to an end.

Led by the Unite and GMB unions, workers are in the midst of a series of 24-hour strikes due to continue until mid-January with an overtime ban lasting until the beginning of February. Last week, Cammell Laird chief executive John Syvret said the industrial action was costing the company millions of pounds in lost orders and putting more jobs at risk.

But the Unite union responded, accusing Cammell Laird bosses of deliberately seeking confrontation by refusing the union’s offer to suspend the action in return for a pause to the job cuts plan. They want time for an alternative plan to be put in place to safeguard jobs.

On Monday Cammell Laird said it is delighted to have been shortlisted to compete to build three Fleet Solid Support ships for the MoD. Defence Minister Stuart Andrew announced the shortlist and the British consortium is made up of  Cammell Laird, Babcock, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.

They join Italian firm Fincantieri, Spanish company Navantia, Japan Marine United Corporation, and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering of South Korea as the five successful firms who have been invited to submit a tender for the competition.

The vessels will deliver ammunition, food and supplies to UK forces across the globe and will work alongside the Royal Navy’s fleet of warships and will be an important part of the UK Maritime Task Group.

The British consortium said: “The formation of a UK team, consolidates the strength, skills and experience from the UK naval enterprise to develop a highly capable and versatile vessel for the Royal Fleet Auxillary, while delivering economic benefit and value for the UK tax payer.”

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