'Act of industrial vandalism'

Unite reiterates call for gov’t aerospace support as Airbus announces nearly 2000 job losses

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Unite has branded aerospace giant Airbus’ announcement on Tuesday night (June 30) to slash nearly 2,000 jobs in the UK ‘another act of industrial vandalism’.

Calling on the government to stop watching from the sidelines while a national asset is destroyed, the union said that No 10 must ‘step up to the plate’, just as leaders in France and Germany have, to protect the sector. In recent weeks, jobs have gone hand over fist in the UK while other competitor governments shore up their businesses and actively protect jobs.

Airbus says that the jobs will go right across its UK operations including at its largest factories at Broughton in North Wales and Filton in Bristol.  1,116 UK manufacturing jobs will be lost alongside 611 office-based jobs as Airbus seeks to shrink its workforce by 15 percent.

However, while jobs are also going in France, Spain and Germany, extended government job retention programmes in those countries of up to 24 months means that no jobs will be lost in those countries in the immediate term.

Unite in Wales highlighted the impact that will be felt in the local economy as the Broughton Airbus is likely to be hit significantly.

The union pointed out that Airbus is one of Wales’ key anchor companies and is central to the future prosperity of the Welsh economy. Any significant loss of jobs at Broughton would further accelerate job losses in the aerospace sector in Wales, Unite noted. The past week has already seen job losses at both Magellan Aerospace and MIC.

Commenting on the situation in Wales, Unite Wales regional secretary Peter Hughes said the Airbus job losses would have a “devastating impact on the aerospace sector in Wales and on the wider Welsh economy”.

“Unite has been calling for the UK Government to put a plan of support in place for the Aerospace sector for months,” he said. “This support has been provided by France and Germany, will the UK Government now step up to the plate and do everything required to support UK aviation jobs?”

Hughes went on to note that the union will not accept any proposal involving compulsory redundancies.

“The workforce at Broughton is world class, and have shown time and again how they are able to adapt and evolve their working practices to maintain the sites position as a central cog in Airbus European operations,” he said.

“Unite is open to working constructively with Airbus to look at all options available in order to maintain the maximum number of jobs at Broughton. Everyone in Wales recognises how important Airbus can be to the economic recovery of Wales post-Covid19. If the UK Government does not step in now to ensure the support is there for Airbus to get through this crisis, the consequences for Wales could be catastrophic.”

Commenting on the situation nationally, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Tuner said the Airbus job losses represented an ‘act of industrial vandalism’, noting it was “a terrible insult to our incredible UK workforce who deserve so much better from our government.”

“Over the weeks of this crisis, this country’s aerospace jobs have gone hand over fist yet not one word of support or act of assistance has been forthcoming from the government,” he added. “The UK government is watching from the sidelines while a national asset is destroyed.

“The only words uttered by the government in relation to UK aerospace during this entire crisis came out of the blue today in relation to the prime minister’s UK-made ‘Jet Zero’ project.  But while our world-class industry is shedding skills and workers at the present rate, this project will be nothing more than a PR fantasy,” Turner went on to say.

“The prime minister and his team must step up to the plate. UK aerospace workers deserve the same support and investment that Mr Macron and Ms Merkel provide to their workers.  Airbus workers in France and Germany have up to two years to work to fend off their redundancies and turn their businesses around while in the UK the axe falls with immediate effect.

“With every day that goes by without any action to support this sector from the UK government, our competitors cheer.

“Of course, immediate job losses at a word-class company like Airbus underlines the challenges faced by the aerospace sector, caused by the massive downturn in aviation in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But we are in no doubt that it is absolutely essential that the government could do so much more. For a start, it could extend the job retention scheme for sectors such as aerospace which have been most severely hit by the pandemic. 

“If not, there will be an avalanche of job losses this summer – and a world-class aerospace sector built over generations and with so much more to give this country will be lost.”

UniteLive team

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