Localise West Midland’s former chairman George Morran focussed on the UK’s dependency on the manufacture of arms, while at the same time being forced to import trains, trams and other manufactured goods from abroad. He asked: “Would it not be possible – with the level of Government support currently given to BAE and its supply chain – to fill some of these more local needs?”
In similar vein, Jude Brimble, the GMB’s national secretary for manufacturing* urges support for the manufacturing sector.
She criticises successive governments for the lack of investment and the tendering processes that hamper home-grown businesses adding, “Whoever wins the next election must develop a procurement strategy supporting UK industry, build strong British supply chains and a balanced energy policy to keep our country’s lights on”.
In November a particular case was cited. New ships are to be built for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, a civilian-manned fleet owned by the MoD to support the Royal Navy by supplying fuel, ammunition and supplies, normally at sea and transporting soldiers and Royal Marines. Jude said: “The Royal Fleet Auxiliary contracts are the key to unlocking the country’s massive shipbuilding potential”, pointing out that ministers are giving away this key by allowing overseas companies to bid on major contracts.
She added: “Against the backdrop of Brexit, the government should be fighting for the defence and growth of as much decent work as possible, not hiving off huge skilled manufacturing opportunities to international competitors for the lowest cost possible.
The decision comes despite the recommendations of the Parker Report, which informed the National Shipbuilding Strategy unveiled by then defence secretary Michael Fallon two months ago, and the views of Sir John Parker (below) aiming for a “renaissance” in the sector:
Campaign leaflet: THE MAKING IT CHARTER
We call on all governments of the UK to:
- Invest in manufacturing – and create an environment that encourages manufacturing employers to invest.
- Buy for Britain – we need a procurement strategy that supports UK industries and supported employment.
- Negotiate trade deals that deliver for workers and industry, avoiding damaging tariffs on British goods.
- Build strong UK-based supply chains to support local communities.
- Support equality and inclusion by tackling barriers to work wherever they exist.
- Invest in skills, research and development, and the technologies of tomorrow.
- Pursue a balanced energy policy that provides sustainability and security for the UK and our nations industries.
*Jude, a former Community Mental Health Practitioner, has been involved in school workforce re-organisation, local government reform and Skills for Security since joining the GMB staff.