Unite called on the UK government today (October 9) to end the uncertainty for thousands of BAE workers and manufacturing communities across Britain by committing to build the next generation fighter jet here in the UK.
The call from Britain’s biggest defence union comes amid reports that BAE Systems is planning to cut over 1,000 jobs because of a slowdown in the production of the Typhoon fighter jet.
Unite is demanding an urgent meeting with BAE and that it comes clean over its plans.
Warning that the UK’s defence capability will be significantly undermined and vital manufacturing jobs lost for a generation because of the UK government’s continued failure to plan, Unite also called on ministers to invest in Britain and buy British.
The union estimates that by 2020, 25 per cent of the UK’s defence spend will be benefiting American factories and companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
Unite assistant general secretary 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,” he added.
“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.
“At a time of Brexit, these are precisely the kind of jobs that the UK government should be protecting. Rather than shipping our defence spend overseas to factories in America and cutting defence, ministers should be investing in jobs, skills and communities by buying British.”