Mr Haughton - answers given to a Consultants Questionnaire
Period 1940’s to 1950’s
Covers wartime naval building programme and post war merchant ship building programme plus post war naval contracts – a continuous run of work. (Doxford Engines, Queda & Quiboa.
Q 1 Profitability of SS & E healthy
Q2 Industrial relations at SS & E generally good
Q3 Comparatively few strikes/disputes, mainly demarcation and wage rates. Complexity of wage structures, local agreements, and wide variations between rates for various trades in various districts were the cause of dispute.
Q4 Difficult to say if the situation stated in 4 had existed then at SS & E whether it would have influenced the present day position because of the vastly different state of present day industry and all the changes that have taken place over some 40 years.
It is possible that more stable management/union relationships and better agreements with the unions regarding working practices would have been achieved sooner if action had been taken then.
Period 1960-1965 (Full programme of merchant and naval contracts(Iron Horse & Iron Crown to British Monarch. 1961 saw the start of Sulzer engine building
Q1 Regarding the word ‘unreliable’ contained in statement this was generally not the case at SS & E although trouble was experienced on occasions. With reference to late deliveries this did not apply to SS & E during the above period. The problem of late deliveries did not arise till much later party as a result of inefficient working practices, unexpected technical problems with certain contracts, non appreciation of the increased complexity of modern ship installations, particularly in specialised naval contracts undertaken
Q2 The cost of operating a separate R & D establishment at SS & E at the time could not be justified as main machinery was built under licence and R & D work, was done mainly by the licensor although S S & E did carry out considerable development work on Doxford slow speed oil engines for some of their contracts particularly in relation to turbo-charging and the burning of heavy fuel oil in slow speed diesel engines
Q3 Statement probably true for SS & E but cannot confirm.
Period 1966-1970 (RFA Resource, Grecian Legend & Spirit, - continuous programme of merchant ship building and naval work – Australian submarines)
Q1 Unable to comment
Q2 The delay in introducing Nationalisation created an unsettling effect throughout the industry and its eventual implementation did not improve matters as it resulted in a considerable increase in administration ‘paper work’ and costs and di not provide a solution to high overhead charges
Q3 Unable to comment
Period 1971 – 1975 (Cumbria, Iron Banbury, Geest Ships, BP Tankers, Chilean Subs, Sugar Ships, RMAS Newton, Jag Priya – continuous programme of merchant ship and naval work.
Q1 unable to comment
Q2 unable to comment
Q3 unable to comment
Period 1976-1980 (RFA ships Fort Grange and Fort Austin, Sulzer engine only contracts, drill ships Ocean Lancer and Pacnorse I, Ocean Transport and Trading ships 3 off, Submarine refit Oracle and Orpheus, HMS Challenger, First Oil Rig – a continuous programme of very specialised and expensive ships but unbalanced as far as Scotts were concerned because of the lack of slow speed diesel engine content
Q1 There were some disputes but probably fewer than at other yards
Q2 Considerable reorganisation of management and consultation with the unions in an endeavour to establish improved working relationships but a feeling of insecurity developed throughout the group
Q3 not involved – unable to comment
Period 1981-1984 (HMS Challenger, BP/Sedco Oil Rig and Ben Odeco
Whilst it is probably true that faults on the sides of both top management and unions had contributed to the overall situation, the criticisms made by certain notables within and outwith the industry were in some cases incorrect also were biased unfairly against Scott Lithgow and did much to harm its image in the outside world
Q1 Well before 1981 there was a general slackness in many sections as regards time-keeping, late starting on the job and early finishing resulting in much lost time, reduced productivity and high costs. Unnecessary ‘blanket’ overtime such as the regular ‘two nights and a Sunday’ was often not coupled with an increase in productivity. For some years prior to the above period the unions had increased their bargaining powers as a result of concessions gained from top management and were still reluctant to adopt changes in working practices. The long deep seated distrust between the management and unions arising from past experiences could not be dispelled.
Q2 The unions would not accept the flexibility agreement which sought to introduce modern working practices which had been in use in competitors yards for many years.
Q3 Yes – it was appreciated that the closure of Scott Lithgow would be very serious for the whole area because of the numbers employed and would have far reaching consequences for the shipbuilding and allied industries. However the present dearth of rig orders and the government policy regarding defence work has resulted in a big reduction in the permanent work force, Trafalgar House adopting the practice of using contract labour as required. Incidentally as a result of retirement and redundancy Scott Lithgow has, during the last few years lost most of its personnel with merchant and naval shipbuilding experience.
Period 1984-1985 (BP/Sedeco oil rig and Ben Odeco
Q1 There was a general feeling of uncertainty as to the intentions of Trafalgar House
Q2 Management attitudes before and after take over were widely different. Trafalgar House has a hard line type of management and this does not contribute to good industrial relations.
Q3 The present position at Scott Lithgow regarding the future is probably better than it was five years ago, but the future security will depend on the company being competitive and being able to demonstrate that it can deliver contracts on time