POLISH workers are being bussed in to work on a government contract to repair Royal Navy ships at Cammell Laird
Ship-fitting contractor Trimline today claimed it was forced to bring in European labour to work at Laird
’s Bidston Docks site because there were not enough local skilled workers.
But furious ship workers branded the company’s claims “ridiculous”.
Up to 70% of workers on the RFA Bayleaf are from outside the area.
Of the 28 staff working on the government-funded project, nine are from the Wirral. The remaining 19 are from Poland, Ireland, Scotland and Southampton, where Trimline is based.
One angry Trimline worker said: “This has been a ship-building town for years and they say they can’t find local skilled workers.
“Five lads who were finished before Christmas haven’t been taken back on, but there’s a minibus of Poles coming in every morning.
“They say you can go all over the world to work for them, but we’re afraid we might not get taken on again at all if we speak out about it.”
The development comes just weeks after a “British jobs for British workers” protest erupted over Italian staff being drafted in to work at an oil refinery in Yorkshire.
The row led to wildcat strikes across the country.
Birkenhead MP Frank Field said he had spoken to ministers and demanded job opportunities be available locally first.
He said: “On projects like the Olympics in London, companies are supposed to give notice to local job centres first, regionally after five days and then the rest of the country.
“I’ve spoken to the immigration minister and asked the government to make a condition that there will be no parameters for bringing in foreign workers unless employers have posted the test of advertising the jobs in local job centres first.”
The MoD today said it wanted to see taxpayers get “value for money”. But Trimline said it cost the company more to employ EU labour.
A company spokesman said it took on up to 100 extra staff before Christmas to work on the now completed Fort Rosalie project, and 60% of them were “locally-based”.
He said: “Trimline always prefer to use local UK labour where possible and will initially source from this market.
“However, if specific skills are not available, we will seek to fill this gap with qualified personnel from other parts of the UK or the EU.
“Employing Polish labour incurs additional costs and by preference we would use UK labour.
“It is worth noting that our UK personnel also have the opportunity to work for Trimline at other UK locations and overseas.”
The company added it had “one enquiry from someone who had been told to give us a call by a local job centre”.
chief executive John Syvret said its own workers were also working on the RFA Bayleaf project, but Trimline’s contract was directly with the MoD.
He added: “We are not party to Trimline’s business with its customers.”
An MoD spokesman said: “We enter into a contract on the basis of providing value for money for the taxpayer. It’s a matter for the company to decide how to recruit its workers.” THE LIVERPOOL ECHO