Trident decision 'could cost Rosyth 1,000 jobs': Management disputes government estimate of 450 redundancies. James Cusick reports

UP TO 1,000 jobs could be lost at Rosyth in the wake of the Scottish dockyard's failure to win the pounds 5bn Trident refitting contract, management said yesterday.

The disclosure will embarrass Malcolm Rifkind, Secretary of State for Defence, who told the Commons on Thursday that only 450 of the 3,700 jobs would be lost because of the decision to allocate 12 years of guaranteed work on surface ships to the Fife yard.

In a BBC Radio interview yesterday, he said the figure of 450 had been agreed with Babcock Thorn, operators of Rosyth and described the 'scaremongering claims' of both Rosyth and Devonport, which won the contract, that there would be tens of thousands of job losses as nonsense.

However, Allan Smith, managing director of Babcock Thorn, said the first time he had heard mention of the figure of 450 job losses was during Mr Rifkind's Commons speech.

He said: 'It would not be correct to say we agreed that figure. Rosyth never gave precise figures, nor agreed to precise figures.' Mr Smith said 1,000 would be nearer the company's estimate. There was a 'magnitude of error' in Mr Rifkind's claim.

John MacDougall, leader of Fife regional council, said last night that the workforce could be cut by 1,500 over the next two years unless additional work was found.

The full political effect of the Government's decision to go back on its 1984 promise of giving the Trident work to Rosyth has yet to be felt.

Some Scottish Tories believe the Government's decision is potentially lethal to any hope of a continued Tory revival in Scotland. Mr Rifkind's claim to have worked with Rosyth on estimating the unemployment effects, when in fact there was no consultation, will not have helped to pacify critics who maintain the decision was entirely political.

The Plymouth yard, according to Mr Rifkind, had undercut Rosyth's proposal by pounds 64m. To keep the Scottish yard in business, he proposed to allocate 12 years of guaranteed work on surface ships - 18 contracts in total, including two aircraft carriers, Type-42 destroyers, mine warfare ships, and Type-22 and Type-23 frigates.

Union leaders at Rosyth say that although managers believe the guaranteed contracts will give them time to develop new expertise and to successfully compete beyond the protected years, they have been given little more surface ship work than they have at present. Although initially optimistic about Mr Rifkind's guarantees, Mr Smith appeared less hopeful yesterday that Rosyth could rely on the Government's word. He said: 'I don't believe this, or any other government, can give 12-year guarantees. Governments change. Commitments disappear.'

In Devonport, where Mr Rifkind estimated the job losses to be 350, Mike Leece, the managing director of DML, which operates the yard, did not rule out attempting to take over Rosyth when the present naval dockyard contracts run out next year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea