Defence firm BAE Systems will start consultations today over plans to cut 620 jobs across the UK and close its site in Newcastle by the end of 2013.
BAE Systems currently employs 360 people at its site in Newcastle to make Terrier armoured vehicles. With the company’s contract to supply the Ministry of Defence set to expire at the end of 2013, there is no pipeline for any more armoured land vehicles to be produced with the UK staging a withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.
BAE Systems carried out a business review which concluded that there was no prospect of new UK armoured vehicle manufacturing work once production of the Terrier engineering vehicle at the Tyneside factory ceases at the end of next year, although a small team could potentially be retained in the North East to provide specialist support to armoured vehicle customers.
The company has already announced the consolidation of the rest of its UK armoured vehicle support work into its Telford facility.
Up to 280 jobs are also set to be slashed across BAE Systems’ munitions business, including Radway Green near Crewe, Washington in the North East and Glascoed in South Wales.
The company’s munitions business facing a drop in demand after the UK Ministry of Defence reduced the volumes of ammunition it requires, which has reduced manpower requirements across its factories.
Managing director Charlie Blakemore commented: “We need to adapt to very challenging market conditions and further reduce our overheads to drive better value for our customers and increase our competitiveness in the export market.”
A consultation period with the unions and employee representatives will now begin. The union Unite, commented that the announcement was “a wake-up call” to Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, warning that it needs to formulate a coherent procurement strategy that safeguards the future viability of jobs in the defence sector.
Unite national officer, Ian Waddell said: “Philip Hammond needs to get a grip of defence procurement policy. There is a desperate need for a defence industrial strategy where the government clearly lays out its spending plans.
“The BAE Vehicles job losses demonstrate what happens when there is no plan and no visibility. It creates a culture of short-termism and leads directly to the dire job losses announced today.”