Jobs and skills are being put at risk as the Westminster Government dithers over decommissioning Rosyth’s nuclear submarines and delaying shipbuilding work, according to unions chiefs.
The government came under fire earlier this week in a hard hitting National Audit Office report over lengthy and costly delays in disposing of 20 mothballed nuclear submarines, seven of which languish at Rosyth.
Now it has been claimed the redundant hulks are hampering the fight to retain skilled workers at the Fife yard, where a raft of redundancies have been announced in the last year.
Deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: “We have a very well respected and highly skilled workforce at Rosyth and Devonport which has been facing job cuts and uncertainty while the government dithers over building and decommissioning projects.
“We are at risk of permanently losing skills and jobs which could easily be safeguarded if we just got on with the job of decommissioning these vessels.
“We also have more subs about to come out of service and we simply do not have space to put them anywhere.”
The union boss said workers had the ability to carry out the decommissioning work right now, but the government seemed content “to continue to throw money away”.
“Our submarine fleet is key to the defence of the UK.
“Fundamental to the credibility and public confidence of our future submarine strategy is a clear programme for the safe and expeditious decommissioning of vessels as they reach the end of their in service life span.
“There is an opportunity here for the government to create and secure high value jobs both in ship building, and making use of existing skills in the civil decommissioning sector.
“It would have the added bonus in Rosyth of safeguarding the skills and infrastructure required to maintain the magnificent HMS Queen Elizabeth in her home port.
“It’s time they got on with it and gave our workforce the vote of confidence it deserves.”
This was backed by Scottish Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Mark Ruskell who said the storage of subs at Rosyth stood in the way of jobs in North Sea oil decommissioning.
“Not only are these nukes draining the public purse and providing ongoing safety concerns for the local community, but they stand in the way of building a sustainable future for Rosyth dockyard.
“We were sold these submarines on the promise of jobs for west Fife, but with only two out of seven being actively dismantled, and the oldest sub having lain in dock for nearly 40 years, clearly this is not the decommissioning bonanza we expected.”
Commander Mark Hamilton, head of marine engineering on board, said the maintenance on HMS Queen Elizabeth is “signficant but necessary”.
“Having completed this work, the HMS Elizabeth should not have to dry dock again for another six years.”