Shortfall at Yarrow brings 320 layoffs

`There is little we can do about it’ says union as orders tail off

By George Paloczi-Horvath

A reduction in Yarrow Shipbuilders’ workload forced it to announce 320 layoffs this week.

Reductions in the workforce will affect up to 200 manual employees and 120 other staff from across the company, cutting the workforce to 1,820.

Yarrow’s workload now comprises four Royal Navy Type 23 frigates and two Malaysian frigates. Of these, two Type 23s are at the earliest stage of building, while construction of a third Type 23 has not started.

One Type 23, HMS Sutherland, is completing. The Malaysian frigates could go to sea now but have not been delivered because of problems with the software for their Nautis command system.

The next major export opportunity for the Clydeside yard is a contract for three corvettes for the Brunei navy. While Brunei announced its choice of Yarrow in December 1995, no contract has been placed since then.

Yarrow has given a formal 90-day notice of redundancy, which extends to 6 May, when the layoffs will take effect.

`We would take volunteers for redundancy first. It’s not necessarily all compulsory,’ said a spokesman.

Union convener Stewart Crawford said: `It’s part of a series of redundancies that’s been going on for over a year. First there was the delay in the Government placing the order for the last three Type 23s, and after that it was the work running down. There’s very little we can do about it.’

Crawford said there would be very few volunteers for redundancy.

`For one thing the redundancy payments aren’t that good, and most of the people who were going to volunteer did so some time ago,’ he said.