'BAE jobs could be cut a year earlier than planned', union bosses warn
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 27 Oct 2017
Jobs at Brough’s BAE Systems factory could be in jeopardy earlier than first feared, union officials have warned.
Factory workers at the Hawk aircraft-producing aerodrome could face the chop by December 2018 – almost a year earlier than predicted – if an order for six new planes is not signed off within the next two months.
BAE Systems announced earlier this month that 400 jobs were at risk at its East Yorkshire factory in Brough – almost half the 950-person workforce – as it looked to scale down its operation by November 2019.
But union officials say the company’s timeline rests on a deal between the UK and Qatari governments for six new Hawk aircraft materialising before the end of 2017.
Otherwise, job cuts be ushered in 11 months earlier, they warned.
The two governments have signed a “Statement of Intent” but the order, which includes 24 Typhoon planes, has yet to be finalised.
Workers at BAE System's Brough Aerodrome face redundancies
Jarrod Rex, a craft union convener at the site, said: “We have work until Christmas for everybody but, in the New Year, that will finish. We will have people with nothing to do.
“In order to continue, that Statement of Intent needs to be turned into a solid contract before Christmas.
“Then we could reduce the rate of production to keep us going until November next year  with the aim of catching another order.”
Mr Rex said “gaps” in the order book were a “real problem” for BAE Systems, as it was not cost effective to stop and start the manufacturing process.
“It is essential we keep that line running,” he said. “We can slow it down or speed it up – but what we can’t do is stop.”
Officials from Unite the Union spent two days over the past week lobbying more than 30 MPs, ministers and shadow ministers in Westminster in a bid to reduce the job losses at Brough.
Hull MP Diana Johnson with members of the BAE Systems lobby in Parliament
Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Hull North, who met with the Brough union officials in Parliament on Wednesday, said: “We want the Government to do everything possible to make sure that Qatari deal is signed.”
At the time of announcing the redundancies on October 10, BAE Systems confirmed it was factoring in the Qatar deal into its production timeline.
The defence manufacturer said: “While this [the Qatar order for six Hawks] is also subject to agreeing a contract between BAE Systems and the Qatar government, we have taken the decision to include this potential future order in production planning, extending Hawk manufacturing for a further 12 months at a reduced production rate.
“We are actively pursuing additional orders which, if secured in the next year, would further extend Hawk manufacturing.”
A spokesman for BAE’s air division told the Mail talks with Qatari counterparts about turning the Statement of Intent into a binding contract “remained ongoing”.
Union officials were in Parliament to also talk to ministers about the possibility of putting in an early order for a new set of Hawks which would be flown by the Red Arrows, the RAF’s aerobatics display team.
Ex-Prime Minister David Cameron and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon had previously said the Red Arrows would require replacements for their Tmk1 Hawks, which entered service in the 1970s, by 2020 – but the Ministry of Defence has since put that renewal date back to 2030 .
A cross-party group of 142 MPs – led by Ms Johnson and Andrew Percy, the Conservative MP for Goole – has backed calls for an order of Red Arrow Hawks to be “brought forward” by the Government.
Staff union convenor Neil Daw (centre) with Rob Trainor (craft chairman, left) and Jarrod Rex (craft convener, right)
The unions say BAE Systems could then allot time to building the Red Arrows' aircraft during times of low demand at the Brough factory, which produces 40 per cent of Hawk plane.
Neil Daw, staff union convener at the factory, said a lack of fresh orders had both local and national repercussions.
“If those orders don’t come in, the UK would lose its ability to build Hawk aircraft,” he said.
“If they [the Government] don’t do something before 2019, any replacement for the Red Arrows will more than likely be foreign aircraft. And if manufacturing goes, then that will really hit the Brough town.”
The union estimates that every one job at the BAE Systems factory supports another four within the wider Humber supply chain.
A BAE Systems spokesman said it was in the middle of a consultation over redundancies where company officials were “doing everything they can to get to the best possible situation”.
The company said it was “a matter for the Government” to decide on whether to order new planes for the Red Arrows.