With less than 24 hours to go before the Chancellor delivers his financial statement, Unite is warning that companies in the aerospace supply chain have announced 5,030 redundancies in recent days – as work dries up because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and pushing the sector to the precipice.
In the East Midlands 306 jobs have gone, while in the North East 420, in the North West 693, in Scotland 405, in the South West 643, in Wales 926 and in the West Midlands 537 have been made redundant. In Northern Ireland a massive 1,100 aerospace jobs have been axed.
Along with the job cuts announced last week, Unite estimates some 10,000 UK aerospace jobs in total will be lost.
And without specific government measures to shore up the industry, Unite warns that these losses will be a ‘drop in the ocean’.
Aerospace is suffering from a domino effect; with aviation being heavily hit by the pandemic, orders in aerospace have also sharply declined.
To prevent further job losses and protect the supply chain Unite is urging the government to put in place sector support – similar to that provided by France and Germany to their industries – until demand returns, including extending the job retention scheme (JRS) beyond October for specific sectors.
Additionally, the government should introduce a form of short-time working that already exists in France with chomage partiel and in Germany with Kurzarbeit. With both the chomage partiel and Kurzarbeit schemes the respective governments pay up to 70 per cent of an employee’s wages and the worker can continue to work on a reduced hours basis.
Unite is also calling for a specific Aerospace Investment Fund similar to that introduced by the French government to support the UK aerospace supply-chain through the current crisis. This would include the potential to take major equity stakes in companies – like the recent OneWeb satellite acquisition.
“Aerospace has been haemorrhaging jobs in recent weeks in communities up and down the country,” commented Unite national officer for aerospace Rhys McCarthy.
“Now thousands of workers throughout the aerospace supply chain face are also being sent to the dole queue – and more will follow unless the government steps up.
“This will hit our communities very hard and will stop the hoped-for recoveries in our regional economies dead in their tracks.”
McCarthy continued, “This is an industry on a precipice. We urge the chancellor to use tomorrow’s statement to demonstrate that this government will not let this world-leading industry to fall into decline.
“Unless the government acts now, as our competitor governments are doing in France and Germany, the jobs lost in recent days will be a drop in the ocean so we are appealing to MPs now, please lobby the Chancellor to include aerospace in his statement tomorrow.
“The UK’s aerospace industry is a world leader in its field but it has been severely affected by a downturn in work due to the pandemic.
“Support must begin with extending the JRS to aerospace or introducing supported short-time working to preserve the jobs of the highly skilled workers who are the bedrock of the industry.”
Find out more about Unite’s campaign
By Barckley Sumner