Unite has hailed the support the union received at a lobby of Parliament earlier this week (May 13), where Unite reps pressed the case for the continued funding of Tempest, the UK’s replacement of the Typhoon fighter jet.
Plans to develop the next generation of fighter aircraft and £2bn of funding were signed off in July last year leading to the creation of 400 jobs, with a further 350 working on the project by the end of 2019.
A cross-party group of MPs attended the lobby, including shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith, trade secretary Liam Fox, and Admiral Lord West, among other key shadow and government ministers.
Unite reps from BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls Royce travelled to London to urge the new defence secretary Penny Mourdant to continue funding for Tempest by ensuring the 10 year defence equipment plan is fully funded in the comprehensive spending review.
Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy praised Unite reps, who he said “demonstrated their superior lobbying skills”.
McCarthy explained that current funding for Tempest is reviewed on a yearly basis – he said it was absolutely vital that both defence firms and their workers, Unite members, are given greater certainty.
“We’re asking for commitments on a longer time scale of three to five years,” he noted.
McCarthy also called on the government to commit to UK defence.
“By 2020 nearly 25 pence in every pound of UK defence spending will be with US companies,” he said. “It is vital not just for the UK’s sovereign defence capability, but for jobs and skills throughout the manufacturing supply chain that the design and build of projects like Tempest is done here in the UK,” he said.
“Unite will continue to press the government to ensure its commitment to the long term funding of Tempest is not watered down under the new defence secretary,” he added.
“We will also be calling on MPs to back UK defence jobs by urging the government to pursue procurement policies which favour UK prosperity through onshore design and build rather than buying off the shelf from abroad on short-term economic grounds.”