Unions' fury as BAE cuts 1,000 jobs in aircraft division

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The Independent Online

Union leaders called for government action after BAE Systems announced a second round of major job cuts in less than a week.

The company, which shed 760 shipbuilding posts last Friday, said yesterday it will cut 1,000 jobs over the next two years in Lancashire at air systems, the division involved in flagship projects such as Joint Strike Fighter and the Nimrod aircraft. The GMB union called the cuts - hitting plants at Warton and Samlesbury - "another devastating blow".

BAE said: "The business can see a downturn in work in some areas over the next few years which means it will have too many people with particular skills."

Nigel Whitehead, the managing director of the company's air systems business, said: "We know it will be a tough time for all those affected. However, it is the only way to ensure a viable future for this business."

Five hundred jobs will go this year, with the rest next year. The division employs a total of 10,000 people, at sites including Woodford, Cheshire and Brough, East Yorkshire.

Mr Whitehead added: "We have been briefing employees for the past six months to expect some major job losses, so today's announcement will not be a great surprise."

The company said it hoped to achieve the majority of the losses voluntarily but it could not rule out compulsory redundancies.

John Rowse, of the Transport and General Workers union, said: "It is high time the Government, as one of the industry's largest customers, the industry and BAE entered into a meaningful discussion with the trade unions so we're planning growth, not managing cuts in a 21st century industry."

Last Friday, BAE said its shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria - a specialist in submarines - would bear the brunt of 760 job cuts.