Unite has commented on business secretary Alok Sharma’s new announcement today (July 20) of £200m worth of grants for the aerospace industry – saying that despite these grants bringing some support – the UK government is lagging far behind competitor countries in Europe.
The grants, available through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) will certainly bring some support for wing, engine, power and cabin systems development. But Unite is concerned that while these grants offer a 50/50 investment split with industry, in France and Germany the R&D ratio is 80 per cent from government and 20 per cent from industry.
“Compared to the overall levels of assistance provided by our European neighbours for their aerospace industries, which have also been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, is it clear that UK ministers are not doing enough,” said Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy on hearing the news.
He went on to explain, “The UK still does not have an in-depth strategy of support that countries such as France, Germany and the US have put in place.
“Unlike France, Germany, Spain and The Netherlands, we are lacking a government aircraft replacement scheme to stimulate the aerospace industry and get more environmentally friendly planes in the sky.”
In fact McCarthy added that the German government has also recognised the need to provide flexible support, including short time working for aerospace jobs to stop redundancies, retain skills and protect the economy.
The UK government has yet to put forward any such measures for when the furlough scheme ends in October – and ministers have not established an aerospace investment fund to support our domestic supply chain, like the French government has done. In short the UK government has not done nearly enough to bring the UK up to a level playing field with other European countries.
It certainly is a worrying time for UK aerospace workers and Unite is demanding the government gives our members a fair chance. Unite argues it makes plain common sense to invest in our world-class aerospace manufacturing industry.
“UK aerospace workers and companies are crying out for a bold strategy of support for our best in class aerospace industry, a sector that with the right support will repay back into local, regional and national UK economies over and over again,” added McCarthy.
By Ryan Fletcher and Amanda Campbell