Jobs at shipyards including Rosyth could be lost if a £1 billion Royal Navy contract goes overseas, union leaders have warned.
The Ministry of Defence is to put the order for Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships out to international tender at the end of this month.
Keeping the work on UK soil could create or secure 6,700 jobs, including 1,800 shipyard jobs, and support a further 4,700 in the supply chain, the GMB said.
Babcock International, which announced 400 job losses at Rosyth Dockyard last November and in March, was among a number of firms from the UK and abroad to attend an industry day in relation to the deal.
Ross Murdoch, the GMB’s national officer for shipbuilding, claimed the government was set to repeat the blue passports fiasco and said: “It would be a gross betrayal of the spirit of the ‘red, white and blue Brexit’ that Theresa May promised if this crucial contract is awarded outside of the UK and jobs here are lost as a result.
“We have a highly skilled shipbuilding workforce in the UK that is more than capable of making these ships at a fair market price.”
Current government policy is that Royal Navy warships are built in the UK but orders for Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships can go overseas.
Some of the firms eyeing the contract from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea and Spain are said to be heavily subsidised.
Mr Murdoch said: “We face being sold down the river if the work goes to artificially subsidised international competitor shipyards instead.”
Scottish Labour urged the UK government to reverse the decision.
Its economy spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “Awarding this £1 billion contract to a UK company could create or secure more than 10,000 jobs, boost the economy and help protect our highly-skilled ship building communities.
“It beggars belief that the Tory government could let this contract go to a foreign bidder, many of whom could have a competitive advantage over British firms through state aid.
“Scotland’s shipbuilders are world renowned and deserve every support from the UK and Scottish governments. Scottish Labour stands ready to work with trade unions such as the GMB to fight for jobs and investment.
“It would be a betrayal of our fantastic shipbuilding communities if these jobs and this investment went anywhere other than the UK.”
The Fleet Solid Support ships are needed to service the £6.3 billion Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and their strikeforce of new F-35 fighter planes.