Together with Unite national officer Ian Waddell and Labour MEP Glenis Willmott, IndustriAll Europe – the European trade union federation for manufacturing – hosted a high-level European aerospace meeting last week calling on the EU and the aerospace industry to work together to protect highly skilled jobs in the sector.
Highly skilled aerospace jobs are predominant in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and Sweden.
The event was attended by top decision-makers and union reps in the aerospace sector, including Rolls-Royce and Airbus representatives.
“Recent redundancies in the UK have had a negative impact on morale,” said Ian Waddell, Unite national officer representing the aerospace sector.”
“I am in Brussels to ask what the EU plans to do to protect this industry from competition from India and the Far East,” he added. “I was pleased to hear that the EU is committed to continuing to invest millions of pounds into research and innovation, but we need to ensure that manufacturing is also taking place in the UK.”
Deputy general secretary of IndustriAll Europe, Luc Triangle, noted that aerospace is an example of “the success Europeans can achieve by working together”.
“Thousands of highly skilled, high value-added jobs have been created all built on a European vision of cooperation and collaboration – this is the pinnacle of our manufacturing achievement, driving the European economy,” he said.
MEP Glenis Willmott highlighted how the EU invests millions of pounds into research and development in the UK aerospace sector.
“We want to ensure that this funding continues, to ensure that the UK is a key player in the industry and that we keep thousands of highly skilled jobs in the UK,” she said.
Airbus Group senior vice-president Natalie Errand also stressed the importance of a Europe that works together.
“Europe needs stronger cooperation of all its players – industry, trade unions, EU institutions, Member States – to keep the European aerospace success story alive. In times of turmoil and increased competition from abroad, we all have to stick to our commitments and increase our pace,” she said.
IndustriAll Europe reminded MEPs they had to be vigilant on laws that could strangle a critical industry and ultimately threaten employment in Europe. The aerospace industry represents hundreds of thousands of workers threatened by emerging competition from China, Brazil, Russia and India.
Therefore it is crucial to support the funding of R&D to enable the industry to compete in the global market and to ensure that aerospace will continue to be a European success story.