Lancashire BAE Workers Appeal To Labour Party
29 September 2011, 14:07
Workers from BAE Systems in Lancashire have spoken to Labour leader Ed Milliband in the hope of saving their jobs.
Labour's annual conference has ended with calls for the Government to protect jobs at BAE Systems in Warton and Samlesbury, as some of the 3,000 workers being laid off by the defence giant visited the gathering in Liverpool.
Party leader Ed Miliband called on ministers to 'get stuck in' on the workers' behalf, while Unite union leader Len McCluskey said the Government could prevent job losses by investing in an upgrade to the Typhoon fighter jet.
Deputy leader Harriet Harman said the conference had been 'overshadowed' by bad economic news, including the job losses at plants in Lancashire and East Yorkshire.
In her traditional end-of-conference address, she told delegates:
'People are worried - here and throughout the country. Worried about their job, the prospects for their kids, about what's going to happen in their local area. And there is only one party leader who understands that. It isn't Nick Clegg. And it certainly isn't David Cameron. It's our Labour leader - Ed Miliband.
'He spoke up for the squeezed middle and he's right. He's understood people's fears for their children - and their ambition for them too. He shares the anger that the bankers are getting off scot-free and he's said that as prime minister he would end reckless irresponsibility from the bottom right to the top.'
After a week punctuated by admissions of mistakes by the former Labour administration, Ms Harman indicated that the leadership believes it is now time to draw a line under the apologies.
'The two Eds both acknowledged what we all know, that not everything we did in government turned out right,' she said. 'And people need to know that over the past year we've taken a hard look at what we did and we've learnt lessons. But it's time now to move on. Because we've got important work to do.'
Ms Harman accused Conservatives and Liberal Democrats of a 'shameful assault on people's democratic rights' with changes to electoral registration which the Electoral Commission has warned could deprive up to 10 million people of their votes. And, as the conference closed to the strains of The Red Flag and Jerusalem, she told delegates that the gathering had been 'a turning point' for Labour with a 'bold and optimistic vision' from its leader.
Seven workers from BAE's Warton and Samlesbury plants were given a standing ovation as they took seats in the front row to hear Mr McCluskey make an emergency statement on the job losses.
The Unite general secretary said the solution to BAE's problems was 'in ministers' hands'. 'The Government must abandon its blinkered procurement policy,' he said. 'If they don't, UK taxpayers' money will be spent on American equipment instead of supporting UK jobs. They need to press ahead with radar developments which would make the Typhoon more exportable.'