The government can no longer stand on the side lines as the latest blow to British industry came on Thursday (July 9) when another leading aerospace company GE announced a total of 769 job losses at its plants in Scotland and Wales.
A total of 323 jobs have gone through a voluntary redundancy process, with another 446 compulsory redundancies proposed today.
Unite said that the gloss had quickly come off chancellor Rishi Sunak’s mini-budget earlier this week, which had done precious little for UK manufacturing, now bearing much of the brunt of the gathering storm of job losses.
A total of 498 redundancies are proposed at GE Aviation Wales, Nantgarw, Cardiff and 271 at GE Caledonian, Prestwick – a 40 per cent reduction in the workforce between March and September this year.
Unite reiterated this afternoon that jobs being lost from manufacturing is the human price for not putting in place a comprehensive range of short to medium term measures, such as short-term working, to support the sector, similar to those adopted by the UK’s economic competitors, France and Germany.
Unite national officer for aerospace Rhys McCarthy said, “It took less than 24 hours for the sheen to fade from chancellor Rishi Sunak’s £30bn mini-budget yesterday which was centred on boosting consumer spending, with precious little heed to the urgent needs of British manufacturing which drives so much of the UK economy.
“Rishi Sunak needs to have a light bulb moment and replicate the actions of our economic competitors, France and Germany, and put in place comprehensive measures, such as short-term working, to support world-class manufacturing companies, such as GE, Airbus and Rolls Royce, through the pandemic,” he added.
“The GE announcement amounts to about a 40 per cent head count reduction from the sites in Wales and Scotland from pre-Covid-19 levels.
“The company had recently undertaken voluntary severance at the two sites that carries out work for civil commercial aviation – today’s numbers are in addition to this.
“Unite is concerned that the company is basing these redundancy figures on worst case scenarios for the aerospace industry; and Unite and its sister trade unions have requested that Syndex consultants examine and challenge the business case put forward by GE,” McCarthy went on to say.
“This is yet another devastating announcement of workers, through no fault of their own, losing their jobs. These job cuts are not coming from failing companies, indeed, before the pandemic they were thriving.
“What this highlights is the UK government ongoing failure to put forward a ‘survive, rebuild and recover’ strategy for UK aerospace.
“The UK government ‘tactics without a strategy’ approach will herald the downfall of our leading place in the global aerospace sector, unless the government provides substantial support and joined up thinking for the aerospace industry specifically and manufacturing generally,” he continued.
“What we are seeing is a tsunami of jobs losses which will have a devastating effect on workers, their families and ultimately on the local and national economy.
“Many of the factories and plants that make up the UK manufacturing base are in the very communities and regions, that Boris Johnson promised would be at the heart of his so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda – now is the time to put flesh on the rhetoric.”
By Shaun Noble