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Job losses at docks not due to dredging delay, despite claims: LETTER
6:00am Friday 13th September 2013 in News
How predictable that the management of Falmouth Docks should seek to blame their laying-off of 78 employees on those opposing the dredging, rather than admit their all-too-evident failings as businessmen.
What responsible employer would gamble everything on a strategy that requires first persuading environmental regulators to water-down one of this country’s most important and robust pieces of conservation legislation and then persuading hard-pressed local council tax-payers to foot the £23 million bill?
And would any rational businessman persist with this fantasy even after they’d been told “no” by the regulators and in circumstances where council budget cuts had, to quote the Packet’s Skipper last week, caused “the near destruction of some services and a failure to fulfil even the most basic of its statutory responsibilities”?
As ridiculous as it sounds, this is what the management of Falmouth Docks has been doing for the last ten years.
Far better if A&P had abandoned their grandiose dredging scheme at first refusal in 2011 and came up with an alternative plan that was realistic in environmental law and affordable without a massive public handout.
A useful starting point would be to renovate the wharves, which are suffering from decades of underinvestment. Perhaps then these 78 redundancies could have been prevented.
As the economic assessment of options for the docks stated, the option with wharf renovations but no dredging – Option B – “maintains the status of the Falmouth Docks by preserving its infrastructure and therefore its capacity”.
In my experience it’s hard to be too cynical where the current management of Falmouth Docks is concerned, so I can’t help wondering whether the non-progress of the dredging is just a convenient excuse for them to further reduce their reliance on expensive full-time local staff in favour of cheaper temporary workers.
The last time Falmouth Docks made a big cut in its full-time workforce was in 2005. This was shortly after A&P set up a separate company called European Active Projects Ltd to provide it with dockers from Poland and other Baltic states that had just joined the EU.
Is it just a coincidence that more full-time staff are being laid off at the docks just as Romanian and Bulgarian workers are about to gain free access to the UK labour market?
Dr Miles Hoskin Falmouth Bay & Harbour Action Group
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