“We’re calling for nationalistion of the dockyard under democratic public ownership and for unity of all dockyard workers,” said Andy Waterman, Portsmouth Socialist Party. “This rally today shows the huge support for this campaign and we want to take it right to the top, with a national demonstration against job cuts and against austerity.”
Local politicians, including Liberal Democrat Councilors and Portsmouth’s Conservative MP have tried to direct anger away from themselves and BAE, by blaming Scottish workers and the debate over Scotland’s independence referendum.
“I don’t think industrial action or strikes are going to help us get to where we need to be. We need to send a message to the Scottish politicians, said Penny Mordaunt, the Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, who has ignored calls to resign from her position within the defense ministry.
However, Portsmouth’s BAE workers and their supporters have rejected this divisive position and have called for a united campaign with workers from Glasgow, Rosyth, and Filton.
A statement from BAE workers, issued by Portsmouth Trades Council said: “We should not follow the lead of local politicians who argue to cut jobs in Scotland to save jobs in Portsmouth. We should fight to save all shipbuilding jobs, wherever they are. BAE and the government can be put under pressure to keep all the shipyard jobs, if there is a concerted campaign.”
Speaking on behalf of the RMT union, TUSC steering committee member Sean Hoyle challenged local politicians for their inaction. “”We have heard Lib Dem politicians say they’ll do all they can, but that is simply not enough. None of the big three parties represent us, nor will they do anything to save these workers. The solution can only come from the workers themselves and we will support them all the way.”
The campaign will continue with a march on Saturday 16th November, assembling at the Dockyard’s Trafalgar Gate at 12pm.