Unions GMB and Unite have called on the government to back the bid to build the Scilly Isles ferry and secure the future of Appledore Shipyard 

The yard is due to close on 15 March, in a move that will be a hammer blow to the North Devon community and to English shipbuilding its 200 strong workforce.

The closure of the yard, which has built 197 ships, was announced back in November, partly due to the uncertainty of the government deciding to pause the bidding process for its type 31e Frigates in July and also the failure of Babcock’s bids for other work.

The MoD said it had been forced to rethink the acquisition strategy for its Type 31e general-purpose frigate programme citing insufficient compliant bids for an effective and robust competition.

However in recent weeks the Government have awarded a £13.8m contract for ‘no-deal’ Brexit ferry services to a start-up company without a competitive process and that as yet does not own a single ferry, throwing up doubts about the government’s tender process.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC he would make no apologies for "supporting a new British business". The contract award notice states this was due to "a situation of extreme urgency" in the run-up to the UK's EU departure date.

Unions are now again calling for the government to apply the same level of support and award a contract to build a new Scilly Isles ferry. Last week the GMB Union held talks with Oil, Gas and Marine Ltd, a Company interested in taking over the site, but until there are orders in place, the company would be unable to get their proposals off the ground.

Barry Hooper, Unite the Union representative said:

“It seems highly odd that the government can pick and choose when they don’t want to implement a tender process.

“The government say it’s a situation of extreme urgency, but what could be more urgent that one of the last English shipyards closing, a couple of weeks before Brexit.”

Jake Mclean GMB Union representative said:

“I don’t know what’s more depressing, the fact that government clearly does not see the loss of hundreds of jobs and Millions of pounds from the North Devon economy as an emergency, or that they think awarding a vital contract to charter ferries to a company that doesn’t own a single ferry.

“The government has lost all direction and sense of priority. They fail to step in and support a historic industry but are happy to award contracts to a ferry company that contracts its staff with fast food terms and conditions. We’re beyond the pale.”

Matt Roberts, District Chair of the CSEU (Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions), said:

“We have previously campaigned for the much-needed new Isles of Scilly ferry to be built at Appledore, and in light of their actions with the ‘no-deal’ Brexit ferries, unions see no reason whatsoever why Government can’t give the Scilly Isles group the interest-free loan they need to get this work started, which can then be done by Oil, Gas and Marine Ltd, a company we met with this week, or any new operator that comes forward, as their first order.

The loan for the last ferry was fully repaid, and this would tide Appledore over to enable more work to be lined up.

Talks are still at an early stage, and we don’t want to raise hopes, but currently Oil Gas and Marine Ltd are on common ground with our members about possible plans to diversify the yard to exploit new opportunities into general fabrication work as well as shipbuilding to give us the a long term, sustainable future for the yard. They just need a helping hand from the government to get started.

Together we can still keep Appledore open, but 15 March is fast approaching.”

You can join the GMB, Britain’s fastest growing Trade Union by clicking here. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

GMB vow to fight for Ford Workers | News from GMB Wales & South West

GMB vow to fight for Ford Workers 14 Jan 2019

GMB has vowed to fight for Ford Workers in Bridgend after the news broke on Friday that there 990 job losses planned for the Historic Bridgend plant.

On Thursday, the Ford Europe announced it would be speeding up plans to cut structural costs and thousands of jobs would be lost across Europe.

The news is a major blow to the Bridgend, with the plant manufacturing Ford Engine parts since the late 1970’s and being one of South Wales Largest employers.

Jeff Beck, GMB Organiser for Wales and South West said: 

“We have been asking the company for two years to clarify the situation regarding jobs and it's not until today that we have had the devastating answer. 

“We have been told 990 jobs will be cut in Bridgend by 2020. This is devastating news for the dedicated workers at Ford and their families.

“GMB will fight for every single one of the remaining 500 jobs at Ford.”

You can join the GMB, Britain’s fastest growing Trade Union by clicking here. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Collapse of Wylfa Nuclear Power project could reduce UK’s energy plan to Tatters | News from GMB Wales & South West

Collapse of Wylfa Nuclear Power project could reduce UK’s energy plan to Tatters 11 Jan 2019

GMB, the energy union, is calling on the UK government to step in to ensure that Construction of the £16million Wylfa nuclear power plant in North Wales goes ahead.

The cancellation by the Board of Japanese company Hitachi is expected on Monday, and the GMB says it will leave the UK’s energy plans “reduced to tatters”. 

It is the second time that GMB has called on the government to be prepared to take action over Wylfa, after the future of the project became less clear back in December.

The Union says that the UK needs at least six new Nuclear Power Station’s to meet the UK’s future Energy demands and green targets, making it’s Vital that the UK Government be prepared step in to save the project.

Without Government backing, the Union fear that the project could meet the same fate as Moorside Nuclear Reactor, a proposed project in Cumbria that is stalled after private funding fell through and the government failed to find a new backer.

Britain’s existing fleet of nuclear power stations provides 20% of the country’s electricity needs and begins to go off line from the middle of the next decade, by which time the current coal fleet will also have ceased production. 

For the 12 months from 7 March 2017, every one in 5.6 days was a low wind day (65 days in total) when the output of the installed and connected wind turbines in the UK produced less than 10% of their installed and connected capacity for more than half of the day. For 341 days in the year, solar output was below 10% of installed capacity for more than half of the day. 

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, said: 

“If the mood music from Tokyo ahead of Hitachi’s Board Meeting on Monday is correct, then without urgent UK government intervention, this country’s new nuclear energy plans will be reduced to tatters. 

“Government must act and step in now, picking up the reins and taking whatever funding stake is necessary, to ensure Wylfa goes ahead on time.

“Britain needs at least six new ultra low carbon nuclear power stations for the guaranteed electricity they can provide. Wind and solar on their own cannot keep the country’s lights on, our homes heated and the economy powered. For that, we need nuclear and gas as well.

"As GMB has pointed out time and again, relying on foreign companies for vital energy infrastructure is plain daft.”

You can join the GMB, Britain’s fastest growing Trade Union by clicking here. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

“On these core values GMB will forever make our stand” - New Year message from John Phillips | News from GMB Wales & South West

“On these core values GMB will forever make our stand” - New Year message from John Phillips 4 Jan 2019

Firstly, may I take this opportunity to wish all of our members and activists a very happy New Year.

2018 was certainly an eventful year, dominated by the indecision, confusion and division of Brexit. Let’s all hope that this matter is finally resolved in a way that protects jobs, employment rights and the peace process in Northern Ireland. Last year again saw an increase in both regional and national membership levels, due mainly to the unstinting efforts of our lay representatives who work so hard for the GMB and its members at their workplaces. 

Our success in 2019 will largely depend upon our ability not only to recruit new members but to also retain existing ones, and that’s why the planned strategic review will be focusing upon those key aspects of our work. We must always remember that a growing union delivers for its members whereas a declining one lets them down.

Once again, GMB was at the very forefront of the trade union movement, campaigning and fighting for industrial, political and social change that is so desperately needed to make Britain a fairer and better country to work and live in. At all times, our union has been proud, passionate and progressive, fighting for justice and opposing exploitation, and supporting the most vulnerable in our society. On these core values, the GMB will forever take our stand.

As Paul Kenny once said, ‘we fear nothing for ourselves’. Let’s all make 2019 a great year for everyone associated with this great trade union of ours.

In solidarity,


You can join the GMB, Britain’s fastest growing Trade Union by clicking here. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.