Belfast Telegraph

Keep £1bn contract for ships in UK, urges union

By Alan Jones

Overseas shipyards are ‘eyeing up’ a £1bn order for three new Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, a union has claimed.

The GMB said the government should reverse a decision to put the contract out to international tender later this month.

Shipbuilding companies in Germany, Italy, Holland, Poland, South Korea and Spain attended a recent Ministry of Defence industry day on the order, according to documents the union said it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Up to 6,700 jobs could be created or secured in the UK if the order went to a domestic shipbuilder, while up to 4,700 could be secured in supply chain companies, said the GMB.

National officer Ross Murdoch said: “The government looks set to repeat the blue passports fiasco by putting another order of national significance out to tender abroad.

“Ministers are not bound by normal EU rules on competitive tendering when it comes to military ships. There really can be no excuse for sending our shipbuilding contracts overseas.

“We have a highly skilled shipbuilding workforce in the UK that is more than capable of making these ships at a fair market price,” he added.

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