Union demands urgent talks over 1,000-plus job cuts at BAE

Typhoon jets

Defence workers’ union Unite is demanding a meeting with bosses at BAE Systems over cuts of more than 1,000 jobs at its sites at Warton and Salmesbury near Preston.

The Lancashire job cuts are being linked to the ongoing slowdown in the production of the Typhoon and Hawk with doubts hanging over future orders for the aircraft.

Jobs are also under the threat at BAE’s other sites across the country, including Brough on Humberside where work on the Hawk is carried out.

BAE has not confirmed the job losses, but an announcement was expected later today (Tuesday, October 10) .

Assistant general secretary of defence workers’ union Unite, Steve Turner, said: “The UK government can end the uncertainty surrounding the future of thousands of British BAE defence jobs at a stroke by committing to building the next generation fighter jets here in the UK.

“BAE must also come clean on its plans. Unite is demanding urgent discussions with the company.

“If these job cuts materialise it will significantly undermine our nation’s sovereign defence capability and leave us reliant on foreign powers and foreign companies for the successor to the Typhoon and the defence of the nation.

“Ministers should be under no illusion. Once these jobs are gone, they are gone for a generation and with them the skills and ability to control our own defence and manufacture the next generation of fighter jets and other defence equipment in the UK.

“The ripple effects down the supply chain and through our manufacturing communities would be immense too, hitting the workforces in other cutting edge companies that are involved in the manufacture of one of the best fighter jets in the world, as well as depriving communities of decent well-paid jobs.”

In the wake of speculation over the job losses, a statement from the FTSE 100-listed company, which 34,600 people out of 83,100 worldwide, said: “BAE Systems continually reviews its operations to make sure we are performing as effectively and efficiently as possible, delivering our commitments to existing customers and ensuring we are best placed to secure future business.

“If and when there are any changes proposed we are committed to communicating with our employees and their representatives first.”

Warton is in Fylde Conservative MP Mark Menzies’ constituency. He said it was a “deeply unsettling time” for BAE workers adding that the firm would look at other opportunities for its workers, for example on BAE’s nuclear submarine and shipbuilding programmes.

He said: “Potentially lucrative contracts on the way from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other could help sustain these jobs.”

Two months ago, the company reported an 11% increase in half-year core profits to £945m and said it was on target to meet full-year expectations.

At the time, chief executive Charles Woodburn, who took over in July, said that he planned to increase efficiency, but saw no reason to change overall strategy of the company.

“It’s clear that we have the right strategy that harnesses our strengths, so we will continue to stay the course,” he said at the time, according to Reuters.

BAE’s largest markets are Britain and the United States, and it also has substantial operations in Saudi Arabia, India and Australia.