Unite condemns “industrial vandalism” as Airbus slashes 1,700 UK jobs

Unite has described today’s announcement by Airbus that it is to slash 1,727 UK jobs as ‘another act of industrial vandalism’ against the country’s under-attack aerospace sector.

Calling on the government to stop watching from the sidelines while a national asset is destroyed, the union said that No 10 must ‘step up to the plate’, just as leaders in France and Germany have, to protect the sector. In recent weeks, jobs have gone hand over fist in the UK while other competitor governments shore up their businesses and actively protect jobs.

Airbus says that the jobs will go right across its UK operations including at its largest factories at Broughton in North Wales and Filton in Bristol. 1,116 UK manufacturing jobs will be lost alongside 611 office-based jobs as Airbus seeks to shrink its workforce by 15 percent.

However, while jobs are also going in France, Spain and Germany, extended government job retention programmes in those countries of up to 24 months means that no jobs will be lost in those countries in the immediate term.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “This is yet another act of industrial vandalism and a terrible insult to our incredible UK workforce who deserve so much better from our government.

“Over the weeks of this crisis, this country’s aerospace jobs have gone hand over fist yet not one word of support or act of assistance has been forthcoming from the government.

“The UK government is watching from the sidelines while a national asset is destroyed.

“The only words uttered by the government in relation to UK aerospace during this entire crisis came out of the blue today in relation to the prime minister’s UK-made ‘Jet Zero’ project.  But while our world-class industry is shedding skills and workers at the present rate, this project will be nothing more than a PR fantasy.

“The prime minister and his team must step up to the plate. UK aerospace workers deserve the same support and investment that Mr Macron and Ms Merkel provide to their workers.  Airbus workers in France and Germany have up to two years to work to fend off their redundancies and turn their businesses around while in the UK the axe falls with immediate effect.

“With every day that goes by without any action to support this sector from the UK government, our competitors cheer.

“Of course, immediate job losses at a word-class company like Airbus underlines the challenges faced by the aerospace sector, caused by the massive downturn in aviation in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But we are in no doubt that it is absolutely essential that the government could do so much more. For a start, it could extend the job retention scheme for sectors such as aerospace which have been most severely hit by the pandemic.

“If not, there will be an avalanche of job losses this summer – and a world-class aerospace sector built over generations and with so much more to give this country will be lost.”

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