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Defence trade unions ‘snubbed’ by Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond. Picture: Peter Devlin

Alex Salmond. Picture: Peter Devlin

Defence industry trade unionists yesterday said they were disappointed that Alex Salmond did not meet them to answer their concerns about independence.

A group of 14 trade union figures held a 45-minute meeting with Scottish transport minister Keith Brown on Wednesday to put to him seven questions about the future of defence industries in an independent Scotland.

Among their concerns is how the country’s shipbuilding industry would be supported after a Yes vote.

The delegation gave evidence about the talks to Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee at a meeting at Glasgow City Halls yesterday.

Jim Moohan, chairman of CSEU Scotland, told the committee: “We from the outset requested to meet with the First Minster.

“It’s been disappointing he’s not given us the respect of sitting at the table with us.”

Kenny Jordan, regional secretary of CSEU Scotland, added: “It has led us to believe that we’re shuffled away down the pack as far as priority is concerned.” Asked if they had felt “snubbed,” Mr Jordan replied: “Yes, we do. From the outset we believe they haven’t taken our quest seriously.”

Duncan McPhee, Unite convener at BAE Systems Scotstoun, said he had questioned Mr Brown on what work Glasgow’s shipyards would receive in an independent Scotland.

He said he thought the response – that the UK Government would have no choice but to continue to place orders for complex naval ships on the Clyde because it was the only place that could do the work – was “insulting” to other shipyards in the UK. Mr McPhee said: “If there’s a political decision for the UK Government to stick to their policy of building these ships in the UK, then unless the Scottish Government are going to attract some other private company or nationalise the shipyards on the Clyde and supply them with work, then I don’t see what the future is for the shipyards.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Deputy First Minister, Finance Secretary John Swinney and Veterans Minister Keith Brown, as well as civil servants, have all met with the shipbuilding unions over the last year. In fact, the Deputy First Minister and Mr Swinney met trade unions the day after redundancies were announced.

“Mr Jordan wrote to the First Minister on 4 June requesting a meeting with ‘appropriate Scottish Government Ministers’ which Mr Brown readily accepted.

“Scottish yards are the best place to produce Type 26 ships. Quite simply, these vessels should be built in the Clyde yards, as [they offer] the best quality and value for money. Joint procurement is something that is in the interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

 

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