Published on 07/03/2007 North/West Evening Mail
A photo is shown here of Devonshire Dock Hall - Astute and Ambush
THE man in charge of building the Astute submarine is accusing shipyard workers of shirking.
Boat manager Stuart Godden says a “significant minority” demonstrate a lack of commitment and refuse to do overtime on reactor systems.
Hundreds of pipework tests still have to be done on the nuclear reactor before the June 8 launch of the first-of-class submarine.
Bosses admit meeting the deadline will be tight. In the BAE newsletter, Wavelength, Mr Godden states: “The programme between the remaining reactor activities through fuelling and launch is now squeezed.
“We still have an achievable programme but we need the commitment and support of everyone to ensure we achieve the necessary high performance.”
He blamed several things for the delays, including planning deficiencies and the loss of experience and skills since the last nuclear reactor commissioning.
But he added: “A lot of people throughout the business put an awful lot of effort and hours in, but there remains a significant minority who will work only minimal overtime, or who fail to honour commitments made.”
Trades union secretary for manual workers Keith Pearson said he believed the workforce was responding to comments from the company and the numbers working overtime had increased.
“I believe the majority of the workforce recognises how important it is to meet the launch date and I believe since those comments people have responded.
“It is entirely up to the membership themselves whether they work overtime or not. Overtime within the company has always been optional.
“There will always be a minority of people who, for whatever reasons, are not able to respond to company requests, probably because of family commitments.”
BAE spokesman Chris Nelson said the launch would still go ahead on June 8 as planned despite the reactor work delays.
He said 400 tests of pipework and circuits for the reactor were due to be carried out in March.
Most work targets on the boat are on schedule.