Unions braced for defence job cuts
Unions are urging defence giant BAE Systems to redeploy staff set to be hit by a huge jobs cull, warning that valuable skills could be lost forever.
Workers at the firm are braced for grim news of up to 3,000 job cuts, with thousands more threatened in the supply chain.
Sites expected to be worst affected are in Warton, Lancashire, and Brough, East Yorkshire, in BAE's military aircraft division.
Union officials said the Government's defence cuts were to blame for the job losses, which they described as a "hammer blow" to manufacturing, as orders for the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet slow down.
BAE has a 33% stake in the Eurofighter joint venture company alongside EADS and Finmeccanica and has received orders for some 550 planes from the four partner nations involved - the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Unite said it needed immediate clarification of which sites will be hit, and pledged to press for redundancies to be voluntary.
National officer Ian Waddell said: "These job losses will be a hammer blow to the UK defence industry, which is already reeling with the consequences of the Government's 'buy off the shelf' policy."
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the news was "a devastating blow for Lancashire and Yorkshire and a real knock for UK manufacturing", adding: "We need a fast response from ministers with a clear plan of action. At a time when it is so hard to find a new job this is a dreadful moment to lose the one you have."
"Labour's industrial strategy has been replaced with this Government's deficit reduction plan and as a result both our industrial base and our equipment programme are being hit."
GMB national officer Keith Hazlewood said: "There were indications that there might be more job losses at BAE on top of the redundancies that have already happened but I am shocked by the scale of these cuts. This is a devastating blow for these communities, for the aerospace sector and for UK manufacturing.