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Falmouth Docks jobs safe... for now: FULL STORY
6:00am Thursday 17th October 2013 in Cornwall
Ship repair firm A&P Falmouth has suspended its plans to restructure its business after the company secured two projects at short notice. It means a temporary lifting of the threat to nearly 40 jobs, although the reprieve is expected to be short-lived.
A&P 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 jobs. This was due to the repair cycle of the yard’s Ministry of Defence contracts, combined with a depressed commercial shipping market. The company also blamed delays to the dredging of Falmouth Harbour to allow access by bigger vessels.
As a result of the restructure, 38 employees have already left the company, most of them voluntarily. This has left A&P Falmouth with a permanent workforce of 273, of which a further 38 positions remain at risk.
Last week A&P successfully secured contracts to carry out work to the tug MTS Victory, already in dock, and a tight 10-day refit of the bulker CSL Argosy, due in Falmouth on 20 October, which with already won work including HMS Mersey is expected to keep the current workforce fully utilised 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 evidence by these two project wins we are chasing all possible work hard.”
Mr Child said the fundamental issues which led to the company announcing the restructure remained the same.
MOD work is important for A&P Falmouth, accounting for more than 50% of the yard’s business in recent years and is worth £300m over ten years to 2018. However, having recently completed a multi-million 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 reiterated that the commercial shipping market was still in deep recession and very much hand-to-mouth. However A&P’s ability to access one of the few growth markets, namely repairs of bigger ships berthed alongside rather than in dry dock, was severely hampered by the lack of significant progress on the Falmouth harbour dredging project, which, he said, meant the yard had turned work away.
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