Britain’s biggest defence contractor, BAE Systems, is to cut almost 2,000 jobs in military, maritime and intelligence services, the firm says.
The company, which makes the Eurofighter Typhoon jet and Britain’s nuclear submarines, said that up to 1,400 jobs would go at its military aerospace business over the next three years, along with a further 375 in maritime services and 150 at its cyber-intelligence business.
A total of 750 posts will go at the Warton and Samlesbury plants in Lancashire, 400 posts will close in Brough, East Yorkshire, 230 will go at RAF Marham and 15 are being lost at RAF Leeming.
Meanwhile 340 maritime jobs will be lost in Portsmouth and Solent region and a further 180 posts will go in London and Guildford.
BAE aims to achieve the cuts, which are due to be implemented by 1 January and will affect managers as well as people working on the production line, through voluntary redundancies where possible.
In a statement, the defence contractor said it was making organisational changes to “boost competitiveness, accelerate technology innovation and improve operational excellence”.
It added that the restructuring of its cyber-security wing would “drive continued growth”.
It is the first move in a cost-cutting programme led by BAE’s chief executive, Charles Woodburn.
Woodburn, who became CEO of BAE in July, said the cuts were necessary. He said:
“The organisational changes we are announcing today accelerate our evolution to a more streamlined, de-layered organisation, with a sharper competitive edge and a renewed focus on technology,” he said.
“I recognise this will be difficult news for some of our employees and we are committed to do everything we can to support those affected.”
Britain’s largest union, Unite, vowed to fight what it called a “devastatingly short-sighted” decision. It had called on the UK government to save jobs prior to BAE’s announcement. The union is considering all options, including industrial action.
“These planned job cuts will not only undermine Britain’s sovereign defence capability, but devastate communities across the UK who rely on these skilled jobs and the hope of a decent future they give to future generations.
“These are world-class workers with years of training and expertise on which an additional four jobs rely upon in the supply chain.
“The UK government must take back control of our nation’s defence and with it, play its part in supporting UK defence manufacturing jobs.”
Speaking in parliament, Claire Perry, minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, insisted that BAE’s changes were “not related to any UK defence spending decisions” but a result of internal restructuring and normal business practice.
She said the government was working with BAE to ensure compulsory redundancies were kept to a minimum, and to secure more orders from abroad. “We absolutely understand this is a worrying time for those affected.”
Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith called the cuts“appalling news for BAE’s workers and for communities across the UK”.
“It is time for the government to address the clear uncertainty that is felt by the industry and come forward with an urgent plan to save these jobs.
“This must include the possibility of bringing forward orders to provide additional work for BAE’s employees, such as replacing the Red Arrows’ fleet of Hawk aircraft that are approaching the end of their service life.”