The Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) consortium of Glasgow, Scotland, was until quite recently one of the biggest shipyards in the world.
The Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) consortium of Glasgow, Scotland, was until quite recently one of the biggest shipyards in the world. Many of Britain's greatest ships - including the "Queen" ocean liners - were built there. Then, last week, the Government announced that it would not cover the deficit of 32 million pounds sterling (76,800,000 dollars) run up by UCS, and a liquidator was appointed. As a result, the two major yards - Clydebank and Scotstoun - will have to close, with the result that several thousand men will find themselves out of work. This is an area already with one of the highest ratios of unemployment in the British Isles.
Amid a huge industrial storm - with Members of Parliament taking sides bitterly and vociferously - the men of UCS and their Union leaders have taken matters into their own hands. Setting up a Management Committee comprising both workers and senior management officials of the Govan, Clydebank and Scotstoun yards, they have posted guards at the gates and gone to work to keep the yards open, although officially both Govan and Scotstoun are on summer holidays and only Clydebank is immediately affected.
In an emergency debate today (Monday), Parliament supported the Government's decision by a vote of 280 to 247. Meanwhile, the Yarrow shipyard, which broke away from UCS, is continuing to work at full production. And Glasgow - with memories of searing unemployment between the two World Wars - has already begun to show signs of the effects such closures might bring, with shops closing down and groups of people standing around in fear of the future.