GMB, Prospect and Unite give their reactions to company’s collapsed merger with EADS. (Pictured: BAE Systems Govan shipyard)

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Unite has urged the government to strengthen its ‘golden share’ in BAE Systems and safeguard jobs after the company’s proposed multi-million merger with EADS fell through.

(Pictured: BAE Systems Govan shipyard, Glasgow)

GMB said the company should look to world market  for job opportunities while Prospect urged the government to spell out its plans to enhance UK manufacturing.

Unite national officer Ian Waddell said: “The highly skilled workforces of both companies are the beating heart of British manufacturing. A merger, with a jobs guarantee, would have created a strong new company that could have protected the UK’s long term interests.

“There was an industrial logic to the merger, but national and political interests proved to be the stumbling block. The UK government now needs to strengthen its ‘golden share’ and send a powerful message that it backs British manufacturing and BAE systems.

“Short-termism cannot be allowed to govern BAE’s future. BAE management in the past has made some crucial wrong decisions, such as selling its stake in Airbus in 2006. We need to ensure the company plans for the long term and that short-term investor pressure is balanced with employee representation on the board.

“BAE is a great British company. The government needs to follow the example of Germany and France where they pursue an active industrial policy and adopt an approach that safeguards the highly skilled jobs which are critical to our country’s defence.”

GMB organiser Jim Moohan said: “This is a decision of fine judgement and the BAe workforce will be relieved that the management did not rush into a situation that could have destabilised a very successful company.

“There were too many ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ and grey areas which if the merger had gone ahead were areas causing serious concern.

“GMB hopes BAE systems will now focus on what they do very successfully and look to world markets for opportunities that will provide employment for their highly skilled workforce across the UK.”

Prospect general secretary designate Mike Clancy said: “This decision changes nothing immediately, but it raises profound questions for the future of the defence sector and the UK’s industrial base, which has been shown by this merger to be in crisis.

“Thousands of skilled jobs have been lost at BAE over the last two years and we fear the loss of thousands more if BAE cannot expand its order book into new markets.

“BAE is a prime contractor for the Ministry of Defence and this move clearly reflects fears about the future profitability of those arrangements as defence markets shrink.

“Now that ministers are liberated from their quasi-judicial role in the merger, they should spell out what plans they have to use the human and physical capital embodied in BAE to enhance the UK’s manufacturing capacity.

“This nation needs more manufacturing capacity, not less, and where government is the prime customer we cannot continue to operate in a policy vacuum.”


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