Macho past of Clyde shipbuilding makes way for creches and gyms

SHIPBUILDERS are as tough and macho as West of Scotland ­workers come.

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The shipyards are to be fitted with creches and gyms
The shipyards are to be fitted with creches and gyms

But in recognition of changing lifestyles and how Clydeside has shifted with the times, unions and ­management have agreed to introduce gyms and creches in yards.

The new facilities are part of a wider transformation of warship production in ­Glasgow outlined by BAE Systems this week.

As we revealed yesterday, the defence giant aims to build a huge £200million ­indoor state-of-the- art "f­rigate factory" in ­Scotstoun and phase out its ­historic Govan yard.

However, the business ­insists it has embarked on a wider culture change that caters for the wellbeing of its workers.

Shipbuilders will no ­longer be sweating outdoors. Instead they will be as isolated from the ­elements, and heavy lifting, as officer staff. As a result, they are going to need gyms to keep in trim.

Unions are delighted. John Dolan, of GMB, said: "They are talking about gyms and creches for young babies. It would be a tremendous opportunity for young families."

Mr Dolan is enthusiastic over the proposed Scotstoun facility, which won't get the final go-ahead until a decision is made on the next round of warship orders later this year.

However, he believes tears will be shed for Govan if it closes as a result.

On Scotstoun, he said: "It would be much safer. Over the last five years safety has improved both by management and employees working together. But an indoor facility would be modern and clean and safe."

More women than ever ­before work in the yards and more men are taking care of their health - and their children.

Charlie Blakemore, BAE Systems business and transformation director, stressed changes to gyms and creches did not necessarily ­depend on the new facility at Scotstoun being built. It is actively looking at health and wellbeing centres in its existing facilities.

The company is going through the process of ­preparing to downsize as it ends its current orders as part of an alliance building two giant aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy.

Around 800 people in ­Scotland are expected to leave the business. But ­improvements are under way for those who remain.

These ­include a revamp of the firm's offices at the Scotstoun yard, on South Street, where engineers and designers are working on plans for the next generation of frigates - the Type 26s.

However, in the long run BAE Systems believes it has to offer the kind of facilities, such as creches, that will keep workers, including women, with highly transferable skills.

Mr Blakemore said: "We want to build a really 21st- Century capacity that will retain and attract the most talented people to our industry."

BAE has a Plan B for the Clyde that would see the old Govan yard retained and ships built across both yards with parts moved by barge between them.

david.leask@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Business

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