ALMOST 600 workers at the BAE systems site in Samlesbury are under threat of losing their jobs, the defence giant has announced.
Crisis talks were held in a series of meetings on this morning when it was announced 843 jobs will go at its factory at Warton, near Preston, and a further 565 going at Samlesbury. There are currently 3,970 employed at the Samlesbury site.
In total, nearly 3,000 jobs will go across the country with 899 at Brough in East Yorkshire, which the company has said it is looking to shut.
The move is being blamed on worldwide cuts in defence budgets and a slowdown in orders for the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Reacting to the news, Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has described it as “extremely worrying”. The deputy speaker of the House of Commons said: “Such an amount of job losses is, of course, extremely worrying.
“I hope Ministers will redouble their efforts in the export market particularly in India and Malaysia and in other parts of the world in order that production can return to a high level as quickly as possible.
“I am sure the Government will do all that it can to retain the highly skilled workforce in our area.”
Similar concerns were expressed by Euro MP for Lancashire and UKIP’s deputy leader Paul Nuttall, who described the job losses as “an absolute tragedy” for the area.
“The firm has already cut thousands of jobs over the last couple of years and now another 1,387 are going in Lancashire.
“The loss of jobs at Warton and Samlesbury is an absolute tragedy for the county. Those local communities rely on the defence industry for jobs.
“These are specialist workers and finding new employment will be very hard for them.
“This is a disaster, not just for local people, but for the whole country’s defence industry,” he added.
In a statement, Mr 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.”
He went on: “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.
“The proposals announced 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.”