Chris Pickett, Portsmouth TUC (personal capacity)
Part of the 16 November demo to save Portsmouth shipyards

Part of the 16 November demo to save Portsmouth shipyards   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The fight to save jobs at Portsmouth dockyards continued on 16 November with 300 trade unionists giving support and solidarity to dockyard workers and members of Unite and the GMB.

They were joined by delegations from the RMT, PCS, and Unison as well as banners from the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and Portsmouth TUSC.

Socialist Party members started up the chant: “We don’t believe Cameron’s lies, save the yards, nationalise!”, which was taken up by the rest of the march.

A rally at the end of the demonstration heard from speakers including Mick Tosh, Portsmouth TUC and RMT Wessex regional organiser who reminded everyone of the battles of the past: “Take the lessons from the Clyde and the 1970s, occupy the dockyards to defend jobs!”

Rob Williams, national chair of the NSSN gave a message of support from the NSSN and outlined the case for nationalisation and the opportunity to link the fight in the dockyards with other growing disputes.

He said: “With the huge anger of ordinary people against the attacks on our jobs and living standards, I think such a struggle would have huge support.

“I’ve seen the support given to the teachers, lecturers, firefighters and probation officers over the last few weeks.

“People will support fellow workers fighting back. We believe we should all fight together – time for a 24-hour general strike.”

The city is seething at the impact of the news with a steady stream of people queuing to sign the Socialist Party petition calling for nationalisation.

We got a great response when we pointed out that the banks had been saved by nationalisation, why not the dockyards? The campaign will continue this weekend taking the message to Pompey fans at Fratton Park.

There is an urgent need to mobilise the anger here in Portsmouth with the campaigns in Scotland and for the unions to call a national demonstration in London to march on the BAE HQ and the defence ministry.

This could build the confidence of workers that the support exists to build a serious fight to save all jobs through a campaign of industrial action.

Socialist councillors Don Thomas and Keith Morrell, who spoke at the rally, are moving a resolution in support of the BAE workers at a forthcoming Southampton council meeting.