Welsh aerospace industry at ‘five to midnight’ as government stays silent on support

The union is appealing to the people of Wales to get behind its campaign to keep jobs and incomes in their communities.

Unite’s warning comes as more than 1,700 jobs have been lost this week at Airbus, which could have a huge impact at the company’s flagship site at Broughton, North East Wales.

With a huge decline in new orders and maintenance work – a knock-on effect from the pandemic hit to the aviation sector – many more jobs are at risk in the industry right across the country. More than 13,000 aerospace redundancies have already been announced in the UK.

Unite issued its jobs warning following the publication of a new report by economic experts Acuity Analysis, which details the challenges facing the both the Welsh and the UK aerospace sector. The analysis profiles the importance of the sector to Wale’s economy and reveals:

  • Wales is heavily reliant on the aerospace sector, with 11,700 workers being employed in the sector.
  • There are 235 employers across Wales split between 50 manufacturing companies and 185 companies specialising in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft.
  • Major aerospace employers in Wales include Airbus, GE, BAE and Safran.
  • The sector is incredibly valuable for the region generating more than £1.4 billion in gross value added per annum.
  • The greatest number of aerospace employers is in West Wales and The Valleys.

According to Unite, which has been battling for sector support since March, large-scale job losses would have a crippling effect on both Wales’ and the UK’s economies: 10,000 aerospace jobs lost would see more than £4 billion wiped off the UK’s economic output.

Unite has been pressing the UK government to follow the lead of competitor nations such as France and Germany to establish an investment programme for the sector to survive, rebuild and recover. A central call from the union is for the government to extend the jobs retention scheme to prevent the premature loss of more jobs and skills while the sector works to build back.

Unite regional secretary for Wales, Peter Hughes, said: “Aerospace is absolutely crucial to the Welsh economy but the lack of action at Westminster means we now stand at five to midnight and could be looking at a very bleak future.

“Jobs are going by the day and our world-leading status is slipping away as other nations sense the competitive advantage in the UK government’s inaction.

“Without the support this sector is crying out for we will lose thousands of the highly skilled, secure jobs that we are told the UK needs and that the government wishes to encourage.

“It is a travesty that the government has not followed the lead of other countries including France and Germany to provide specific support for what is a world class industry. Worse still, the UK government’s silence on support gives our competitors a business advantage.

“We are pleading with the government. Waste no more time.  Be clear that the JRS will be extended for the sector to preserve skills and jobs, and bring forward a package of support for the aerospace sector which would not only preserve jobs in Wales but be the shot in the arm the entire UK economy desperately needs.”

Unite is urging everyone who is employed directly in the aerospace industry or indirectly associated with it to contact their MP and ask them to lobby the government for support for the sector.

Peter Hughes added: “If you work in the Welsh aerospace sector or know someone who does, then please help us save this flagship industry and keep our communities in work. Pick up the phone to your MP or drop them an email. Only by speaking up together can we win the future our workers absolutely deserve.”

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