Tens Of Thousands Of Aerospace Jobs At Risk

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BAE Systems banner from Samlesbury in the North West where 22,400 workers are employed in the aerospace industry

THROUGHOUT Britain, the Unite union is reporting, the aerospace industry and job futures for many thousands of workers are ‘at five to midnight’ – ‘staring at the loss of thousands of highly skilled jobs and tens of millions in economic contribution’.

Unite is warning too that ‘with a huge decline in new orders and maintenance work – a knock-on effect from the pandemic hit to the aviation sector – many more jobs are at risk.’ The union is appealing to the people of each region to get behind ‘a campaign to keep jobs and incomes in the community’.
Unite has issued this statement following the publication of a new report by economic experts Acuity Analysis, which it says details ‘the challenges facing the entire UK aerospace sector’. That analysis profiles the importance of the sector to every UK region’s economy, revealing for example that:

  • The East of England region is heavily reliant on the aerospace industry, with 6,700 workers being employed in the sector.

There are 475 employers in the region split between 110 manufacturing companies and 365 companies specialising in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft.
Major aerospace employers in the region include BAE Systems, Bombardier, GKN, Marshalls, MBDA, Safran and Leonardo. The sector is incredibly valuable for the region, generating £863 million in gross value added per annum.
The greatest number of aerospace employers are in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Unite is warning that ‘large-scale job losses would have a crippling effect on both East England’s and the national economy: and some 5,000 aerospace jobs lost would see well over £2 billion wiped off the UK’s productive output.’
But when it comes to what the Unite leaders propose to do about this situation, it turns out that they have no plans other than appealing to the Tory government to do their jobs for them!
According to Unite, which says it has been ‘battling for sector support since March’, large-scale job losses would have a crippling effect on both the East Midlands’ and the nation’s economies.
In fact, however, this ‘battling’ turns out to have been as follows: ‘Unite has been pressing the UK government to follow the lead of competitor nations such as France and Germany to establish an investment programme for the sector to survive, rebuild and recover.’
And ‘a central call from the union is for the government to extend the jobs retention scheme to prevent the premature loss of more jobs and skills while the sector works to build back.’
Or, in other words, Unite is bankrupt of any practical ideas and is simply on its knees, begging the Tory government to do something to help it out – when what is required is organised action by Unite members as well as those of other unions to change the situation!
And of course, this is not only in the East of England, as the report goes on to show:
The South East region, for example, ‘is heavily reliant on the aerospace sector, with 8,500 workers being employed in the sector.
‘There are 460 employers in the region, split between 175 manufacturing companies and 285 companies specialising in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft.
‘Major aerospace employers in the region include Airbus, BAE, GKN and Thales UK.’ Unite has been ‘pressing the UK government to follow the lead of competitor nations such as France and Germany to establish an investment programme for the sector to survive, rebuild and recover.’
And according to Unite: ‘large-scale job losses would have a crippling effect on both the South East’s and the nation’s economies’ repeating that ‘5,000 aerospace jobs lost would see more than £2 billion wiped off the UK’s economic output.’
And at the same time ‘The North West region is heavily reliant on the aerospace industry, with 22,400 workers being employed in the sector.
‘There are 260 employers in the region split between 95 manufacturing companies and 165 companies specialising in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft.
‘Major aerospace employers in the region include BAE Systems, MBDA UK, Rolls Royce and Safran Nacelles. The sector is incredibly valuable for the region generating £1.7 billion in gross value added per annum.’
In fact the highest number of aerospace employers in the UK is found in Lancashire.

  • In the South West, meanwhile, Unite is warning that ‘the region’s world-beating aerospace industry is also at “five to midnight”’, and ‘staring at the loss of thousands of highly skilled jobs and billions in economic contribution unless the sector receives urgent support from the government.’

‘The South West region,’ it says, ‘is heavily reliant on the aerospace sector, with 26,600 workers being employed in the sector.
‘There were 375 employers in the region split between 115 manufacturing companies and 260 companies specialising in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft. Major aerospace employers in the region include Airbus, GE Aviation, GKN, Leonardo and Rolls Royce.
‘The sector is incredibly valuable for the region generating £1.3 billion in gross value added per annum. The greatest number of aerospace employers in the region is found in Devon with significant numbers in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the Bath/Bristol area.’
And, says Unite, ‘large-scale job losses would have a crippling effect on both the South West’s and nation’s economies.’

  • In the East Midlands too Unite is ‘warning that the region’s world-beating aerospace industry is at ‘‘five to midnight’’, staring at the loss of thousands of highly skilled jobs and billions in economic contribution unless the sector receives urgent support from the government.

That warning has come ‘after aerospace parts firm SPS Technologies announced more than 350 job losses across the region, while Turbine Surface Technologies Ltd has announced more than 100 job losses. Meanwhile, East Midlands employer Rolls Royce is planning to shed 3,000 jobs across the UK.
‘With a huge decline in new orders and maintenance work – a knock-on effect from the pandemic hit to the aviation sector – many more jobs are at risk in the industry right across the region. More than 13,000 aerospace redundancies have already been announced in the UK.
‘The East Midlands region is heavily reliant on the aerospace sector, with 25,900 workers being employed in the sector.
‘There are 130 employers in the region split between 45 manufacturing companies and 85 companies specialising in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft.
‘Major aerospace employers in the region include BAE, Rolls Royce, Bombardier and Leonardo. The sector is incredibly valuable for the region generating more than £1 billion in gross value added per annum.’
Here again Unite says it has ‘been battling for sector support since March’, and that large-scale job losses would have a crippling effect on both the East Midlands’ and the nation’s economies.
What it is saying, however, is: ‘We are pleading with the government. Waste no more time. Be clear that the JRS will be extended for the sector to preserve skills and jobs, and bring forward a package of support for the aerospace sector which would not only preserve jobs in the East Midlands but be the shot in the arm the national economy desperately needs.’
And in Yorkshire, ,says Unite: ‘Jobs are going by the day and our world-leading status is slipping away as other nations sense the competitive advantage in our government’s inaction.
‘Unite is urging everyone who is employed directly in the aerospace industry or indirectly associated with it to contact their MP and ask them to lobby the government for support for the sector.’
This is political bankruptcy! What is required is nothing less than organised general strike action to bring down the Tory government and replace it with a workers’ government and a socialist planned economy – on behalf of all the trade unions and the entire working class.