Unite, the East Midlands’ leading union, is warning that the region’s world-beating aerospace industry is at ‘five to midnight’, staring at the loss of thousands of highly skilled jobs and billions in economic contribution unless the sector receives urgent support from the government.
The union is appealing to the people of the region to get behind its campaign to keep jobs and incomes in the community.
Unite’s warning comes after aerospace parts firm SPS Technologies announced more than 350 job losses across the region, while Turbine Surface Technologies Ltd has announced more than 100 job losses. Meanwhile East Midlands employer Rolls Royce is planning to shed 3,000 jobs across the UK.
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 region. 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 East Midlands and the entire UK aerospace sector. The analysis profiles the importance of the sector to the region’s economy and reveals:
- The East Midlands region is heavily reliant on the aerospace sector, with 25,900 workers being employed in the sector.
- There are 130 employers in the region split between 45 manufacturing companies and 85 companies specialising in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft.
- Major aerospace employers in the region include BAE, Rolls Royce, Bombardier and Leonardo.
- The sector is incredibly valuable for the region generating more than £1 billion in gross value added per annum.
- The greatest number of aerospace employers is in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
According to Unite, which has been battling for sector support since March, large-scale job losses would have a crippling effect on both the East Midlands’ and the nation’s economies: 5,000 aerospace jobs lost would see more than £2 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 the East Midlands, Paresh Patel, said: “Aerospace is absolutely crucial to the East Midlands’ 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 our 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 the East Midlands but be the shot in the arm the national 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.
Paresh Patel added: “If you work in the East Midlands 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.”