WAIVE THE RULES TONY; Don't Let Germans Use Euro Laws to Sink Our Shipyards, Beg Workers

By Houston, Simon; King, Dave | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), April 10, 2000 | Go to article overview

WAIVE THE RULES TONY; Don't Let Germans Use Euro Laws to Sink Our Shipyards, Beg Workers


Houston, Simon, King, Dave, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


TONY BLAIR was urged last night to tear up the Euro rules which could kill off a Clyde shipyard with the loss of 12,000 jobs.

The former Kvaerner Govan yard, now owned by BAe Systems, is under threat after two German yards undercut its offer for a Ministry of Defence contract by 15 per cent.

European regulations say the UK Government must give the work to the lowest bidder.

But the German government has helped its yards with multi-million pound subsidies disguised as engineering works that do not break Brussels rules designed to make sure fights for contracts are fair.

And politicians and union leaders told Blair to bend the same rules to make sure the the contract for six roll-on roll-off ferries goes to Glasgow.

Experts said that 3000 jobs would go at Govan and its sister yard at Scotstoun, and up to 9000 more would be axed in supply industries and the local community otherwise.

Under Euro competition rules, national interest does not come into the ferry work because the vessels are classed as commerical rather than military.

But Govan shop stewards convener Jamie Webster said: "We all know Germany and France have ignored the European rules in the past.

"Their governments have paid for technical and design centres, and that's just a subsidy by another name.

"I didn't see the French quaking when they ignored the rules on British beef.

"Why do we always have to be goody two shoes - it's our workers that lose out."

The Govan yard was saved from closure last year, and the ferry order would keep it alive until the next round of MoD contracts for Type 25 frigates in two years.

There are four rival bidders and sources say the Germans are cheapest.

SNP MSP Nicola Sturgeon wrote to First Minister Donald Dewar, warning: "The cost of not awarding this contract to Govan is the loss of thousands of jobs and the beginning of the end of shipbuilding. …

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