UK government must follow French lead on aerospace and aviation or business will move overseas, warns Unite

Unite, which represents workers throughout the aerospace and aviation sector, is calling on the UK government to follow the lead of France and provide specific support to these sectors, both of which have been dramatically hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

French support

It has been announced that the French government will provide €15 billion (£13.34 billion) in support of its domestic aviation and aerospace industries in the form of direct government investment, subsidies, loans and loan guarantees.

The direct intervention and support for both sectors by the French government is in direct contrast to the action by the UK government, which to date has only been prepared to offer minimal or piecemeal support, heightening fears that there will be huge job losses and that businesses presently based in the UK will move overseas to countries where government support is on offer.

Urgent action needed

Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner said: “The French government is absolutely right to act to protect French aerospace and aviation skills and jobs while also delivering on climate change commitments.

“This is precisely the sort of intervention we quickly need to see from the UK government to preserve jobs.

“There are 1.2 million UK workers depending on the aerospace and aviation sectors for their jobs, from engineers to airline and airport staff.

“Unless a specific support package is brought forward soon, including measures such as an aircraft scrappage scheme, then thousands of jobs will be lost and the UK will lose its standing as a world leader in aerospace.

“This initiative by the French government means it is even more vital that the UK government brings forward its own support package or an even greater number of jobs will be lost in this country. Major companies will simply avail themselves of support overseas with an inevitable grim knock on effect at home.”

UK wake-up call

Unite assistant general secretary for transport Diana Holland said: “The French government’s support for its aviation sector must serve as a wake up call to our own government. It is nearly three months since the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, promised specific support for aviation as a result of the pandemic and we are still waiting.

“The initiative from the French government must also prompt MPs and businesses alike because they need to be applying far greater pressure on our government to act decisively and bring forward support without further delay.

Unite has published a clear blueprint which details a realistic manner in which the government can support the aviation sector, preserve jobs and boost regional connectivity. It is absolutely critical that the government adopts these principles and acts decisively and swiftly.”

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