Unite criticise alleged decision to build new Mersey Ferry in Netherlands shipyard

Video report by ITV Granada Reports' Merseyside correspondent, Andy Bonner.

Unite have criticised the decision to build Liverpool's new Mersey Ferry overseas as a "complete betrayal".According to the union, Liverpool's Combined Authority has given most of the work to Daman Shipyard in the Netherlands, with Cammell Laird in Birkenhead just finishing the project off.

Cammell Laird will only undertake the refurbishment of one of the existing ferries, despite the Cammell Laird being able to fully undertake the work of the new one.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a complete betrayal of a local and highly skilled workforce, it defies belief that a new Mersey ferry won’t be built on the river the ship will serve.

“This is a wholesale failure of the government’s procurement policy, which continues to undermine strategic British industries and threatens jobs and skills.”

Shipbuilders Cammell Laird have a long heritage with Mersey Ferries, having built 15 of the vessels dating back to 1836. Credit: ITV Granada

It is the first time a new Mersey Ferry has been built for over 60 years.

Currently, Cammell Laird has 693 employees and Unite said "there has been a significant commitment in recent years to train apprentices and increase skills at the shipyard".

Unite claim that if they had been awarded the contract to build the new ferry, it would have secured around 120 jobs at the yard for up to an 18 month period.

Cammell Laird shipyard Credit: ITV News

Unite regional officer Ross Quinn added: “Workers at Cammell Laird are angry and frustrated. Once again they are being forced to pick up the scraps.

"They clearly understand the value of employing people to recycle the investment in the community where the ferry will operate and taxpayers money has come from as opposed to sending up to £15 million abroad.

"The workers want the government to explain how they can let this happen at a time when we’re told every penny is a prisoner.”

However, Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said he simply cannot intervene as it is up to Cammell Laird, who are in talks for the contract, if they want to build the ferry with the Dutch firm.

"We've tried to squeeze as much local value as much local value as we possibly can and there will be local supply chains that will hugely benefit from this.

"But of course it's for the contractor, in this case hopefully Cammell Lairds, to decide where they source parts from."

The project will cost around £24million, money Steve Rotheram said needs to give value to taxpayers, but money which unions want kept here on Merseyside.

Cammell Laird said it cannot comment, but said it is looking forward to playing its part.

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