BAE axes a further 720 at Swan Hunter

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The Independent Online

The defence giant, BAE Systems, is to axe 760 jobs, mainly at its Cumbria shipyard that builds submarines, the company said yesterday in an announcement that triggered an angry response from trade unions.

BAE, Europe's largest weapons maker, said up to 720 of the losses would be in Barrow-in-Furness where it employs 3,000 people building naval ships and submarines. The other 40 are in southern England, it said.

Murray Easton, the managing director of BAE Systems Submarines, said the announcement was "regrettable" but added the cuts were vital to make sure the company build the Astute-class submarine on time and to cost. "This is very difficult and disappointing news for the employees, their families and the local community," he said.

Union leaders branded the job losses a "devastating blow" to Cumbria and vowed to oppose compulsory redundancies. Keith Hazlewood, the national officer of the GMB union, said: "The entire community will feel the impact of these job losses. The job cuts are devastating to the manufacturing sector, UK ship building and the region." John Wall, Amicus's national officer for shipbuilding said: "UK shipbuilding is being sliced up like a salami, with the result that thousands of skilled craftsmen, designer and engineering workers leaving the industry in the UK to work for foreign competitors."

BAE makes the Astute at Barrow, and has a £2bn contract to supply three of the submarines to the Royal Navy.

In a separate blow to the UK's remnant shipbuilding industry, Jaap Kroese, the managing director of the Swan Hunter yard on the Tyne, warned he will mothball his plant, losing 1,500 jobs, unless new orders are found within two years.