UK
06/11/2013 13:55 GMT | Updated 06/11/2013 14:22 GMT

BAE Systems Axes 1,775 Jobs, Ends English Shipbuilding

BAE Systems has axed 940 jobs in Portsmouth, bringing an end to an 800-year long era of English shipbuilding.

The defence giant's announcement will see a further 835 jobs lost in Glasgow, Rosyth and Filton. BAE Systems will close its shipbuilding operations in the second half of next year and scale its operations down in the city to just producing high-end naval equipment and combat systems.

The new was met with horror by local politicians. Tory MP Mark Hoban, whose Fareham constituency neighbours Portsmouth, said that the area would need Government support to deal with the blow.

"End of era for naval ship building on South Coast. Need Govt. help for area," he wrote on Twitter.

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BAE said it was being hit by a "significant" reduction in workload following the peak of activity on the current aircraft carrier programme.

The grim news was given to workers at a series of meetings at 11am across the affected sites, before they were allowed to go home for the rest of the day.

BAE said: "Following detailed discussions about how best to sustain the long-term capability to deliver complex warships, BAE Systems has agreed with the UK Ministry of Defence that Glasgow would be the most effective location for the manufacture of the future Type 26 ships.

"Consequently, and subject to consultation with trade union representatives, the company proposes to consolidate its shipbuilding operations in Glasgow with investments in facilities to create a world-class capability, positioning it to deliver an affordable Type 26 programme for the Royal Navy."

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Workers leave BAE Systems in Govan, Glasgow after hearing the defence giant is to axe 1,775 jobs across its naval ships business and end shipbuilding at Portsmouth.

Steve Murphy, general secretary of construction workers union Ucatt, said: "Once again workers have found out that their jobs are under threat through the media. It is highly distressing and extremely unfair to treat a loyal workforce in such a way.

"This is a highly skilled workforce, so it is absolutely essential that the Government and BAE Systems minimises job losses, guarantees the long-term future of all the shipyards and continues to invest in training the workers of the future."

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who was recently appointed as a Commons aide to the Defence Secretary, provided no immediate comment. However, the Portsmouth Tory councillor Alistair Thompson condemned it as an "act of lunacy".

He said: "This is devastating for the workers and their families but also for all those people involved in the supply chain that keeps the dockyard working.

"It makes no sense to close England's most advanced ship-building facilities. It is an act of lunacy that could make us reliant on foreign shipyards for the supplying of the Royal Navy."

At Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron said: "These are extremely difficult decisions and our first thoughts should be with all of those that are affected."

"We want our Royal Navy to have the best and most modern ships and the best technology. That means we will go on building warships on the Clyde, we will be announcing three new offshore patrol vessels, keeping that yard busy rather than paying for it to remain idle as the last government proposed."

"In Portsmouth, yes there will be job reductions, but there are many more people involved in ship servicing than in ship building, so the workforce will go from 12,000 to 11,000."