Warnings that UK risks losing highly skilled jobs in £9 billion a year export industry
The TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has led condemnation of the announcement of up to 3000 job cuts by by arms manufacturer, BAE Systems. Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool he described the job losses as “yet another devastating body blow to our manufacturing base”.
The firm says the cuts are required to maintain competitiveness and will be mainly in its military aircraft division.
BAE said the largest single groups of potential job losses included 899 at Brough in East Yorkshire, with the others in Lancashire: 565 at Samlesbury and 843 at Warton and Preston. The firm announced that it had started a consultation about ending manufacturing altogether at the Brough site, which currently employs 1,300 people. The company says more than 600 further jobs are to go at other locations across the country, from Somerset and Hampshire to Essex and Fife
Unions say the defence industries generated more than £9 billion in exports last year.
Ian Waddell, the national officer for Unite, the biggest union at BAE Systems, blames government cuts for putting the future of highly skilled jobs in the industry at risk. In a statement, he said: “we expect the MoD to intervene urgently to protect these jobs, otherwise the UK’s defence industry risks losing the critical mass it needs to maintain its reputation as a world leader.
The GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “These massive job losses in our major UK manufacturing company show how far off track the recovery from the international recession now is. The economic prospects are bleak for families and communities affected by these job losses.
Tony Hammond from Prospect said the cuts were a grim reminded that defence cut-backs were still filtering through to industry. “When the country is crying out for highly skilled specialists to help kick some life into the economy, BAE is being forced to make job cuts because of the Coalition’s defence policies. The government is sleepwalking through a defence skills crisis of its own making.”
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