Jobs at risk says Unite

Posted on 27 Apr 2010 by The Manufacturer

An open letter, signed by 173 senior union activists, expresses 'grave concern' that Tories and Liberal Democrats would slash thousands of jobs in the defence sector.

Bernie Hamilton, Unite national officer for aerospace & shipbuilding, said: “The inexperience and cavalier attitude of Tory and Liberal democrat MPs towards the defence industry threatens thousands of directly and indirectly employed workers across England and Wales.

“Their fundamental misunderstanding of defence could permanently damage the UK’s sovereignty to manufacture defence equipment in this strategically vital and highly skilled industry. Their plans would also have a knock on effect on non-defence manufacturing as the knowledge and skills built up in defence is transferred to other strategically important sectors like aerospace and energy.

“George Osborne and Liam Fox have both said on the record that on day one of a Conservative government they would exercise the break clauses in major defence contracts. Liam Fox has also said that the UK should buy off-the-shelf equipment from the USA. Vince Cable has said he would cancel a number of major defence contracts. These MPs’ amateurish approach will fundamentally damage the defence industry and Britain’s manufacturing base.”

The signatories to the open letter work at major defence and manufacturing companies, including Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Airbus, GE, Babock and Augusta Westland Bristol.

Commenting on the election and its potential impacts on the defence industry, Ian Godden, Chairman of aerospace, defence and security trade organisation A|D|S, said: “It is unfortunate that the defence industry is being politicised in this way. After the election there will be a Strategic Defence Review regardless of who wins. Everyone who values the industry, which employs 300,000 people in the UK, should be preparing to influence the review to deliver maximum benefit to our armed forces and our economy.

“The industry is working with all mainstream political parties to deliver our mutual aim of supplying the best possible kit to our armed forces and to drive the economic recovery with our world-leading exports. The UK is number one in Europe and number two globally behind only the US. All of the mainstream political parties know this and they should keep it in mind during the review.”