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27 September 2011, 13:12
Defence giant BAE Systems confirmed today that it is cutting almost 3,000 jobs at sites across the country, mainly in its military aircraft division - with 899 positions being cut at the Brough plant.
he firm ended days of speculation by giving details of a huge redundancy programme, saying it needed to maintain competitiveness.
Ian King, chief executive of BAE Systems, said: ``Our customers are facing huge pressures on their defence budgets and affordability has become an increasing priority. Our business needs to rise to this challenge to maintain its competitiveness and ensure its long-term future.''
BAE announced that it had started a consultation about ending manufacturing at the Brough site, which currently employs 1,300 workers.
The firm said most of the job cuts would be in its military aircraft division, which is being affected by a slowdown in orders for the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet.
Mr King said: ``Some of our major programmes have seen significant changes. The four partner nations in the Typhoon programme have agreed to slow production rates to help ease their budget pressures.
``Whilst this will help extend our production schedule and ensure the production line stays open until we receive anticipated export contracts, it does reduce the workload at a number of our sites.
``Pressure on the US defence budget and top-level programme changes mean the anticipated increase in F-35 production rates will be slower than originally planned, again impacting on our expected workload.
``To ensure we remain competitive, both in the UK and internationally, we need to reduce the overall costs of our businesses in line with our reduced workload.
``The proposals announced today aim to put the business into the right shape to address the challenges we face now and in the future and ensure we are in the best possible position to win future business.
``This transformation process is not going to be easy. We understand that this is a time of uncertainty for our employees and we are committed to working with them and their representatives to explore ways of mitigating the potential job losses.''
Staff union convener Ian Gent said workers were left 'absolutely heartbroken and tearful' following today's meeting in Brough.
'In all honesty, the company have been an absolute disgrace, an absolute disgrace the way they have treated the people on this site,' he said.
'For a company that purports to hold very high standards in its ethical behaviour, it needs to look at itself in the mirror and ask itself some serious questions about the way it treats its staff.
'We have co-operated with this company time after time to do the very best for the people on this site. Well, this time round they will be seeing another side to us. We have to fight them on keeping work on this site.
'We have yet to hear any tangible reason why this cannot be kept here. They have given us no good business reason yet as to why that should be moved from this site.'
He said he agreed with sentiments shouted out by the workers as they left the plant who claimed they had been 'sold down the river'.
'Absolutely sold down the river. We went through a redundancy which only finished at the end of July based on the capability to build Hawk. They made people compulsorily redundant from this site.
'Now we are in September and they are telling us that's not the case any more. What has changed in those few weeks?'
He suggested the company had been 'cooking up this scenario behind our backs'.
He said it was 'disingenuous' at best 'and at worst I would even suggest they have lied to us'.
David Davis, Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden, and Alan Johnson, Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle, spoke outside the factory in Brough after meeting bosses.
The politicians said the announcement this morning was the beginning of a statutory 90-day consultation period in which they would go through the details, challenge the decision and put forward any counter proposals.
Mr Davis said they had to do everything possible to preserve production at Brough while at the same time looking to help 900 people in the area to find work elsewhere.
He added that this was the third time he had heard about job losses at the plant through the media, rather than from the company and said the managers should be 'ashamed'.
Mr Johnson agreed the way the workers had been treated was 'appalling' and said the manager who briefed them had apologised for the way the news had been handled.
'Three or four days of news coverage before anyone sits down and tells them the truth,' he said.
Mr Johnson said it was a 'terrible day' and described the news as 'devastating'.
He said the factory, which opened in 1915, had a 'long history' and described it as a 'productive plant with wonderful skills that may well be needed in the future'.
The plant in Brough was a 'little oasis of well-paid, high-value jobs', he added.
Mr Davis described the workforce as 'outstanding' and said they had been 'brilliant' on each of the three occasions the factory had been faced with job losses.
'They're worth fighting for,' he said. 'The Government will be putting every ounce of effort into protecting as many jobs as possible.'