Belfast Telegraph

221 redunancy notices threaten future of GKN helicopter factory

A helicopter plant is "effectively" closing after hundreds of workers received redundancy notices, a union has warned.

Unite said 221 notices have been issued at the GKN factory in Yeovil, Somerset, speculating that the first job losses could start in December.

The union urged the Government to take action to defend jobs such as those at the site, where airframes for helicopters are made.

GKN Aerospace said Leonardo Helicopters has told the company that due to changes in demand for helicopters, it will relocate work to one of its own facilities.

"Leonardo's decision to take this work in-house means an immediate end to any future AW159 Wild Cat orders being placed with GKN Yeovil.

"The removal of a significant part of GKN Yeovil's business puts at risk the long term viability of our Yeovil site, which is situated inside the Leonardo Helicopter campus.

"Having completed a thorough assessment of the business, including our on-going order book, capabilities and cost base, we have regrettably concluded that GKN Yeovil, as it stands today, is no longer a sustainable business and will have to be significantly downsized or fully closed. We will now enter a period of consultation with nominated employee representatives," said a statement.

Unite regional officer Heathcliffe Pettifer said: "This is terrible and heart-breaking news for the workers and their families, and the ripple effects for the wider West Country economy will be painful in the extreme.

"Unite will strongly defend our members' jobs, and immediately start a campaign to lobby GKN and Leonardo Helicopters, whose apparent decision to bring airframe work back 'in house', has led to the real possibility of the site's closure.

"The threat to these 221 highly skilled jobs makes the need for a robust, coherent and sustainable long-term industrial strategy to protect the UK's manufacturing base an urgent priority for the Government."