Defence cutbacks in UK lead to 3,000 job losses
DEFENCE giant BAE Systems confirmed today that it is cutting almost 3,000 jobs at sites across the country, mainly in its military aircraft division.
The firm ended days of speculation by giving details of a huge redundancy programme, saying it needed to maintain competitiveness.
The biggest job cuts will be at sites in Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire and at Brough in East Yorkshire, although jobs will also be lost at the firm's head office in Hampshire.
Ian King, chief executive of BAE Systems, said: "Our customers are facing huge pressures on their defence budgets and affordability has become an increasing priority. Our business needs to rise to this challenge to maintain its competitiveness and ensure its long-term future."
Union officials said the Government's defence cuts were to blame for the job losses, which they described as a "hammer blow" to manufacturing, as orders for the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet slow down.
Paul McCarthy, regional officer of the GMB, said it was a "disgrace" that workers heard via a leak to the media over the weekend that thousands of job losses were imminent.
"We are going to ask the company to launch a formal investigation to establish who leaked this information."
Dave Oglesby, another GMB officer, said a consultation on previously announced job cuts at Brough had only just finished.
"Workers were told that the purpose of the cuts was to make Brough viable and save jobs for the future."
Unite national officer Ian Waddell said: "These job losses will be a hammer blow to the UK defence industry, which is already reeling with the consequences of the Government's 'buy off the shelf' policy."
Mr Waddell called on the Government to offer immediate support to BAE Systems to keep its order book strong and avert heavy job losses.
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the news was "a devastating blow for Lancashire and Yorkshire and a real knock for UK manufacturing", adding: "We need a fast response from ministers with a clear plan of action.
"At a time when it is so hard to find a new job this is a dreadful moment to lose the one you have.
"The defence industry is vital to the UK, supporting both our forces on the front line and the wider UK economy."
BAE has a 33pc stake in the Eurofighter joint venture company alongside EADS and Finmeccanica and has received orders for 550 planes from the four partner nations involved - the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Earlier this year BAE Systems said around 2,000 workers would leave voluntarily or move to other jobs in the company, but there will be 450 compulsory lay-offs at several military sites across the UK, including Woodford, near Manchester, Farnborough in Hampshire, RAF Kinloss in Scotland, RAF Cottesmore in Lincolnshire and Brough in East Yorkshire.
The cuts were blamed on decisions such as the scrapping of the Nimrod and the accelerated retirement of the Harrier aircraft.
After the announcement in March, union leaders blamed the Government, with Unite claiming jobs were being lost as a direct result of Government decisions in last year's defence review, which led to the company warning of almost 2,500 posts being cut.