Occupy and demand nationalisation to save Devon shipyard from closure
Sean Brogan, Exeter Socialist Party
The owner of Appledore Shipyard in north Devon, Babcock International, has announced its closure. Such an action would be devastation for the workers, their families and the whole community.
There would be a loss of nearly 200 jobs in an area where skilled jobs are few and far between. Already, 140 workers face being shipped by bus to Plymouth for a 5.30am start time.
Babcock has been offered £60 million worth of contracts by the Tories to continue. But this is not enough, and they intend to close by March 2019 – the site is leased by them from Langham Industries.
There has been a demand to reveal the nature of these contracts. Babcock received £1.5 million for work carried out last year.
There have been mass meetings, a 10,000 signature petition, and visits to politicians in London. Jeremy Corbyn has said he will be supporting the campaign according to Jake McLean, the senior GMB union rep at the yard.
This workforce is poised to fight a weak Tory government which can be forced into saving jobs and the community by strikes and occupation of the yard by workers. If they decide to strike or occupy then the whole of the south west labour and trade union movement should be mobilised to support them.
Alongside this, a demand should be made that the shipyard be nationalised and that Corbyn should give a commitment that an incoming Labour government would do so. This would put huge pressure on the Tories.
This is a battle that can be won. The workers at a meeting on 5 November resolved to continue campaigning. Let the leadership of our movement show its strength!