A strike by shipyard workers in protest at planned job losses is to be extended into the new year.

Members of the Unite union at the Cammell Laird site in Birkenhead have started a programme of strikes which will now be extended from mid-December until mid-January.

An overtime ban is in place until February.

Unions say workers could lose their jobs the week before Christmas under plans for 291 redundancies.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said the Government should stop "sitting on its hands" as shipyards across the country face a "growing crisis".

"We are demanding that the Government steps up and brings forward already committed work from the Royal Navy while we work with other key customers to bring projects scheduled for later in 2019 into the yard early. "There is no reason for these job losses and it is time Cammell Laird started working constructively with Unite, and for everyone with an interest in a strong future for UK shipbuilding, to come together to protect vital skills and jobs before they are lost forever."

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner

John Syvret, Cammell Laird's chief executive, said: "Cammell Laird remains committed to being a prime job and wealth creator for Merseyside families and businesses.

"It is important for the trade unions and all associated to note that we have generated more than #355 million for the UK economy in the last five years.

"This counterproductive strike action only undermines our ability to create jobs and work. We are a contracting business, and like any other we have to increase and decrease resource in line with employment legislation to ensure we deliver our obligations and maintain a competitive cost base.

"This strike action has facilitated a loss of over #1.5 million pounds worth of business already, and with growing concerns from other customers more losses are imminent.

"It may be obvious but put simply, without customers there are no jobs at all. These lost contracts are now being undertaken in other shipyards."