The 400-job cut bombshell: What will future hold for BAE, a defence giant at the heart of our history?

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 11 Oct 2017

It is recognised across the world as a defence giant and for over a century BAE Systems has been at the heart of a small East Riding town community.

But after the latest round of cuts, almost half of the 950 proud and loyal workers at Brough Aerodrome are facing redundancy.

This has left workers worried about how they will pay the bills and residents concerned for the future of their town, which has relied so heavily on the income generated by Britain's biggest defence contractor.

One worker, who did not want to be named, is expecting to lose her job and fears bosses at BAE Systems want to "close down Brough".

Hawk aircraft previously built in BAE, pictured in 2007

“My job won’t be safe because it is manufacturing related,” she said. “It’s sad. I’ve been with BAE a long time.

“My husband is self-employed so I’m the bread winner when he hasn’t got any work.

“All the speculation was that it was across the other sites but Brough has been hit massively. I think they want to close down Brough.”

Read more: Brough hammer blow from BAE as 400 jobs look set to go at Humber site

Bosses said the cuts were part of "streamlining and de-layering" the business to ensure it had a more competitive edge, with new technology remaining a "key priority". It will see a new chief technology officer joining the executive committee too.

Charles Woodburn, chief executive, said: “These actions will further strengthen our company as we deliver our strategy in a changing environment.

“Separately, we are also announcing actions at some of our UK sites to align our workforce capacity more closely with near-term demand and enhance our competitive position to secure new business.

Neil Daw said the job losses would be a "devastating blow" for the site

"Those actions are necessary and the right thing to do for our company, but unfortunately include proposed redundancies at a number of operations.

"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.”

But this is not the first time BAE Systems workers in Brough have faced an uncertain future - just five years ago, 381 jobs were lost. It followed a valiant fight by the staff force and union to save as many jobs as they could.

Read more: 'Shock and devastation': East Yorkshire MPs react to BAE cutting 400 jobs in Brough

That same resilience has been shown today as hundreds of workers carried on with their jobs as normal, despite being told at 10am that 400 friends and colleagues could be losing their livelihoods.

The son of one worker whose mum has already faced redundancies a number of times, said the news came as a complete shock as he blasted bosses for the way they handled telling the workers the news.

He said: “She is very apprehensive as she’s managed to avoid it so far. She is not hopeful this time.

“They were told about Brough at a meeting at 10am. Workers knew nothing until then and first heard about losses on Sky News yesterday – it’s a terrible way to treat them.”

BAE Systems has long been recognised as a thriving business with a proud history in Hull and East Yorkshire.

BAE Systems apprentices at Brough

Skilled workers played their part in preparing fighter pilots during the Battle of Britain when the company was known as Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company.

When the firm became part of British Aerospace and subsequently BAE Systems production continued to flourish with Harriers and Tycoons built at the aerodrome on the banks of the Humber.

However, business has been suffering in Brough since the company decided to switch the bulk of production of the Hawk - a single-engine jet-powered aircraft used by the Red Arrows - to a plant in Lancashire.

Specialist workers were retained in Brough to complete part of the assembly but with orders diminishing, widespread cuts were announced across the board with 2,000 in total across a number of sites.

A number of planes such as the Blackburn Kangaroo (pictured) have been made in Brough for over a century

Neil Daw, staff union convener at the Brough factory, said in the same way they did five years ago, staff will not go down without a fight.

They are now looking to challenge the government to achieve more orders to save jobs.

He said: “It’s a devastating blow to the site. This is obviously upsetting for everyone.

“If the fighter plane contracts don’t come then we realised this is what might happen. We have 857 people on site, and we have been told that 393 in total have been put at the risk of redundancies.

“It will mainly be in manufacturing. We haven’t had a breakdown of the figures but I understand it will be most people on the shop floor.”

As well as workers, Mr Daw, who has worked as a BAE Systems technician in Brough for 40 years, said that the loss of hundreds of jobs will impact the town’s economy.

Just hours after that fateful meeting with chiefs at BAE Systems, scores of workers filtered out of the aerodrome and up Skillings Lane towards bakeries, sandwich shops and small supermarkets to grab their lunches.

The future of the site as Brough has been left in a cloud of uncertainty following recent job cuts

This daily ritual puts pennies into the pockets of many small-time businesses but with 400 jobs at risk, the knock-on effect is bound to be felt.

Mr Daw said: “It’s just really difficult to take and it will have a big impact on all people here and their families.

“And that will then affect all of the other businesses in Brough.”

One resident, whose son works for BAE Systems, lives down Albemarle Close and was left shocked by the high number of redundancies.

She thinks that after another roll-out of redundancies, the site will eventually shut down altogether.

“It’s shocking but it has been on the cards a while now. I think it might shut down - I see it going that way."



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