Union leaders claimed the government was reneging on its promise made during the independence referendum to bring work to the Clyde through Ministry of Defence contracts to build the next generation of Royal Navy warships in Scotland.
The GMB union said job losses would be “a total betrayal of the upper Clyde workforce by a desperate Tory government” after union leaders were briefed on the situation by defence contractor BAE Systems.
Union leaders said they would do all within their power to avoid compulsory redundancies and were seeking an urgent meeting with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
Nicola Sturgeon said the union’s concerns were “deeply troubling” and that “it would be unacceptable for the UK government to renege on its commitment to build these ships on the Clyde”.
According to the trade unions, BAE Systems outlined a “worst case scenario” of 800 redundancies if the UK government backslides on its commitment to build the eight frigates. Their concerns have been caused by a slower release of MoD funding, which means work will not start until 2017.
The GMB has also been told that cuts would mean that up to 20 per cent of work from the upper Clyde would be outsourced to England – around 2,500 people are currently employed in the Clyde yards.
A BAE Systems spokeswoman said: “Following the strategic defence and security review, we are working with the Ministry of Defence to agree a revised baseline for the Type 26 ships and a production schedule for the two additional offshore patrol vessels in Glasgow. Our focus is to deliver the capability the Royal Navy needs, while ensuring the best value for UK taxpayers.”
A MoD spokeswoman said: “The government is committed to building ships on the Clyde and to the Type 26 programme. Over the next decade, we will spend around £8 billion on Royal Navy warships. We will consult with industry and trade unions as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, which will set the UK shipbuilding industry on a sustainable footing for the future.”