'Urgent' help needed for UK Airbus staff facing redundancy

By: AFP      Published: 07:43 PM, 1 Jul, 2020
'Urgent' help needed for UK Airbus staff facing redundancy

Politicians and unions said Wednesday the loss of 1,700 jobs at British plants run by Airbus -- part of massive worldwide staffing cuts announced by the aviation giant -- would prove "devastating".

The aircraft maker revealed 24 hours earlier plans to cut 15,000 jobs worldwide, 11 percent of its total workforce.

Airbus said 5,100 jobs would go in Germany, another 5,000 in France, 900 in Spain, and 1,300 positions at other global sites, as well as those at two plants in north Wales and southwest England.

Ken Skates, minister for economy, transport and north Wales in the devolved Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, said aeronautics was a "key" part of the local economy and called on help from the national government in London.

"The sector is in crisis and the British government must take swift and decisive action immediately to save this sector and its supply chain," he said.

If not, the crisis would only get worse, he added.

Airbus employs 13,500 people in the UK at 25 sites including Broughton in Wales and Filton in Bristol, the two plants where the job losses would occur.

The UK's leading manufacturing union, Unite, described Airbus' announcement as an "act of industrial vandalism".

It also called on Boris Johnson's administration to save jobs.

"The UK government is watching from the sidelines while a national asset is destroyed," it said, calling for jobs to be protected, as in France and Germany.

"The prime minister (Boris Johnson) 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."

The Airbus announcement is the latest major blow to the UK aviation sector, which is reeling in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Airlines such as British Airways, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic, and aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce have all announced thousands of lay-offs.  

Howard Wheeldon, an aeronautical analyst, said the current situation was "the most serious crisis" faced by aviation sector.

Paul Everitt, director of the ADS sector association, which represents over 1,000 members in related aviation industries, called on the government to introduce "urgent measures" to help industrial jobs.

Labour, the main opposition party, has called for government aid.

Britain's business secretary Alok Sharma told the BBC on Wednesday the government would continue "to support the economy".