GEC-Marconi to cut 1,000 defence jobs

More than 1,000 jobs are being cut at GEC-Marconi, the defence electronics business, because of intense international competition. The cuts will hit a number of sites across Britain but the biggest losses will be at Chelmsford, Essex, where up to 240 jobs will go, Portsmouth in Hampshire, with up to 210 losses, and Stanmore in Middlesex, where 190 jobs will be cut.

The company employs 7,000 working on radar and defence systems, and electronic projects such as airport security and flight control equipment.

A spokesman for the company, part of the GEC empire, which employs 40,000, said most of the redundancies would probably be compulsory, with the cuts taking effect by the autumn.

The Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union strongly condemned the losses and called for an urgent meeting with the management. "Marconi's madness puts in further jeopardy the future of Britain's vital electronics and avionics wealth-creating industry. It is outrageous that Marconi is considering throwing away the talents of such a huge number of people."

But a company spokesman said growing competition meant GEC-Marconi had to improve efficiency and reduce costs. "There is plenty of business in the export market, but it is fiercely fought for." He said the cuts had nothing to do with recent development problems on GEC contracts for the Ministry of Defence.

Thomson, of France, Italy's Alenia, and Westinghouse in the US are big competitors and have all been slimming down.

GEC already makes the radar for Eurofighter, being built by a consortium that includes British Aerospace. And it is in talks with Thomson and Germany's Daimler-Benz about co-operating on developing a radar system for the generation of aircraft to succeed Eurofighter.

There was better news yesterday for GEC and other UK defence companies with reports that Saudi Arabia is close to awarding Britain a pounds 1bn naval helicopter order.

The Saudi ruler, King Fahd, is anxious to purchase a fleet of anti-submarine helicopters to counter the threat from Iran's new Russian-built Kilo class submarines in the Gulf region.

The British and Saudi governments are understood to be negotiating a deal to sell around 20 EH101 helicopters produced by Westland, part of GEC.

The aircraft will be broadly similar to the 44 EH101s now being manufactured for the Royal Navy under a pounds 1.5bn contract. GEC, Racal and Smith Industries work on the project.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Sheridan Maine: Financial Accountant

£150 - £190 Daily Rate: Sheridan Maine: One of London's leading water supplier...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor