Falmouth Docks job cuts on hold as A&P secures new work
JOB cuts at Falmouth's docks have been put on hold after two new contracts were secured.
As previously reported, ship repair company A&P Falmouth announced in September that it had started a 30-day consultation with staff and unions about a proposed restructure which could result in the loss of up to 78 positions at the yard.
It said this was due to the lull in the repair cycle of the yard's Ministry of Defence (MoD) contracts combined with a recession-hit commercial shipping market. It also blamed continuing delays to proposals to dredge a deeper channel in Falmouth Harbour to allow access by bigger vessels.
A&P said as of this week, 38 employees have left, most by voluntary agreement, with a permanent workforce of 273 remaining, and a further 38 positions at risk.
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Last week the firm secured contracts to carry out work to the tug MTS Victory, already in dock, and a refit of the bulker CSL Argosy, due in Falmouth on Sunday. It said these jobs, combined with already contracted work including HMS Mersey, were expected to keep the current workforce employed until the end of October. A&P managing director Peter Child said: "This is good news, but unfortunately only a postponement at this stage and while no further compulsory redundancies will be confirmed for the coming week, this will be reviewed weekly.
"We still face a tough 18 months and the future order book has not got enough work for our current workforce, although as evidenced by these two project wins we are chasing all possible work hard."
Work for the MoD has accounted for more than half of the yard's business in recent years and is worth £300 million over ten years to 2018. However, having recently completed a multimillion-pound refit of Royal Fleet Auxiliary Argus, which had employed 200 staff for six months, the next major refit is not scheduled until April 2015.
Mr Child added that the commercial shipping market remained in deep recession and "very much hand-to-mouth", and lack of more progress on the dredging project meant the yard had turned work away.
Campaigners opposed to the dredging say it would harm important seabed habitats and refute claims about the amount of investment and number of jobs it could generate.