The first redundancy notices went out to shipyard workers employed by BAE this week.
They are part of a programme of cuts set to close the Portsmouth plant. Almost 2,000 jobs are set to be lost between Portsmouth and other BAE shipyards in Scotstoun and Govan.
GMB union members protested outside the BBC’s Question Time in Portsmouth last week. And hundreds joined a protest called by Portsmouth Trades Council last Saturday.
But the unions that organise shipyard workers—Unite, GMB, Ucatt and Prospect—have yet to mobilise against the cuts.
“To reverse this decision we have to move very quickly,” said a worker in the Prospect union at Saturday’s protest. “They will strip the assets before they hand over the keys. We have to fight or it will be a catastrophe.”
One worker told Socialist Worker, “The working class has been sold out again by politicians and the bosses.
“BAE knew this was coming for years, but it put pressure on our union reps to keep us quiet.”
One marcher pointed out that a new aircraft carrier is still incomplete—a huge bargaining chip for workers if they fight.
Members of Unite’s local community branch called for the shipyard to be put to civilian uses. But it will take workers’ action to stop the cuts—and time is running out.