Tag Archives: Peter Hughes

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.”

Airbus plans would have “devastating impact” for Welsh economy

Airbus is one of Wales key anchor companies and is central to the future prosperity of the Welsh economy. Any significant loss of jobs at Broughton would further accelerate job losses in the aerospace sector in Wales. The past week has already seen job losses at both Magellan Aerospace and MIC.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary commented:

“The significance of large scale job losses at Airbus would have a devastating impact on the aerospace sector in Wales and on the wider Welsh economy. Unite has been calling for the UK Government to put a plan of support in place for the Aerospace sector for months. This support has been provided by France and Germany, will the UK Government now step up to the plate and do everything required to support UK aviation jobs?

“We are calling upon Airbus to hold their nerve and step back from implementing their plan. Everything must be done to engage with Government to see if the necessary support can be provided to delay this decision until this crisis abates. Certainly further extension of the furlough scheme to the aerospace sector would be a medium term solution whilst it rebuilds and recovers.

“Unite will not accept any proposal that involves compulsory redundancy for our members. The workforce at Broughton is world class, and have shown time and again how they are able to adapt and evolve their working practices to maintain the sites position as a central cog in Airbus European operations. Unite is open to working constructively with Airbus to look at all options available in order to maintain the maximum number of jobs at Broughton. Everyone in Wales recognises how important Airbus can be to the economic recovery of Wales post-Covid19. If the UK Government does not step in now to ensure the support is there for Airbus to get through this crisis, the consequences for Wales could be catastrophic”.

2 Sisters Food Group Announcement is Welcomed by Unite

Following further negotiations between 2SFG and Unite, we welcome today’s announcement by 2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG) that all of the 560 staff employed at their Llangefni site will be paid in full for the 2 week self-isolation period imposed following the Covid19 outbreak.

The payment will be made out of a £1m hardship fund established by the company to support employees during the current crisis. 2SFG will now work closely with Unite to ensure all the employees are able to return safely to work at the end of the current self-isolation period.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary commented:

“Unite welcomes the decision by 2 Sisters to agree to our call for all employees to receive full pay during the period of self-isolation. The company has rightly recognised that their workforce should not suffer any financial detriment during this necessary process of quarantine. 

Unite is committed to working very closely with 2 Sisters in order to put every measure in place to ensure the workplace is as safe as it can possibly be when the workforce return. No stone should be left unturned in the process of protecting our members and the wider community”. 

Wales will “Never Forgive” PM if he blocks Swansea Tidal Lagoon

Unite the union is extremely concerned by media reports that the UK Government is set to block the go ahead for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project. With only 8 days left until planning consent for the project expires, there is considerable speculation that Whitehall officials are sabotaging the scheme which would be a landmark infrastructure project for Wales and the UK.

Unite the union has consistently backed the project, seeing it as a way of revitalising the economy of South West Wales and positioning Wales and the UK as a world leader in the emerging green tidal energy sector.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary commented;

“Welsh manufacturing has taken a hammering during recent years. The Covid19 pandemic has worsened this trend and industrial employment in Wales has taken giant strides backwards in recent months.

Supporting the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project would be a perfect opportunity for the UK Government to show that Wales will not, yet again, be at the back of the queue when it comes to landmark infrastructure projects. Boris Johnson has previously gone on the record in Wales supporting this project, he has to keep his word on this.

It beggars belief that a Government touting ‘green recovery’ continues to ignore the one piece of green infrastructure sitting shovel-ready in Wales and the one opportunity we have to seed a new growth industry in Wales. This project makes economic and environmental sense and would give our country hope that it can emerge from this crisis with some hope for the future.

Wales wants and needs this project. If Boris Johnson rows back from previous commitments and continues in the Tory tradition of ignoring the needs of Wales, he will never be forgiven.”

Crisis meeting required to stem further food sector Covid19 outbreaks

Following significant outbreaks of coronavirus at two food production facilities in Wales, Unite is calling on employers and the Welsh government to take urgent action before they spread elsewhere within Wales.

Confirmed outbreaks at both 2 Sisters in Llangefni and Rowan Foods in Wrexham are a worrying development on the day Wales announced further measures to ease the lockdown.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary commented;

“These significant coronavirus outbreaks are extremely concerning for our members at both 2 Sisters and Rowan Foods, and indeed for any worker employed in the food production sector in Wales. Clearly food production is especially susceptible to Covid19 outbreaks, as these cases and those across the UK and the wider world reflect.

“We are calling upon Welsh Government to convene a crisis meeting of Wales key food sector employers and trade unions to ensure everything is being put in place to protect staff and prevent the spread on the virus to the wider community.

“A rigorous and speedy assessment of the adequacy of the sectors Covid19 preventative measures is urgently needed. Unite will always hold employers to account where they fall short in protecting staff. At this time of national crisis ensuing that accountability is upheld has never been more important.

“We of course support the First Ministers road map out of lock down that he outlined today. This spike in cases in the food sector cannot be allowed to spread and jeopardise our nation’s gradual return to normality”.

Welsh government face covering recommendation the wrong decision for Wales

Unite the union has reacted with disappointment to the decision by the Welsh government not to make the use of face coverings on public transport in Wales mandatory. Vaughan Gething, health minister, today announced that the Welsh government was instead ‘recommending’ the use of three-layer face coverings on public transport.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Speaking today Peter Hughes, Unite Wales regional secretary, commented: “The Welsh government’s announcement today that it only recommends the use of face coverings on public transport is very disappointing. As a union representing tens of thousands of frontline workers in Wales, including bus drivers, this falls well short of our members call for their use to be compulsory.

“The WHO has recently backed the wearing of face coverings and the Welsh government should be reflecting this in its decisions. The wearing of face coverings has been shown to reduce transmission of Covid-19 and would improve safety for both drivers and passengers alike. If Wales is going to start getting back to work, then public confidence in the safety of public transport is essential. Making face coverings compulsory is the best and simplest way of achieving this.

“Unite is calling upon the Welsh government to urgently review its decision and take the common sense approach on this. This is not the time for caution and confusion, make face coverings compulsory on public transport and let us work together to get Wales safely moving again.”

Unite Wales Reaction to Restaurant Group Announcement

Responding to reports that the Restaurant Group is to close between 100-120 Frankie and Benny restaurants across the UK, putting 3,000 hospitality jobs at risk including at its 15 outlets in Wales, Peter Hughes, Unite Regional Secretary commented;

“This is more grim news for Welsh hospitality workers, many of those who will lose their jobs will be young people. The hospitality sector has been devastated by the coronavirus crisis, urgent action by employers and government is desperately needed to give our younger generations the hope of future employment.  Unite is urging the Restaurant Group to think again and use the UK government’s furlough scheme to save these jobs. These are unprecedented times, but the last thing these workers and this industry needs are knee-jerk reactions.

Right across the hospitality sector, many employers are using the current crisis to dump their workforce or attack workers’ pay and conditions. Job losses and closures are piling up. The UK Government must act now to stop this race to the bottom and save our high streets, tourism attractions and coastal towns from what could be a very bleak future. What we need from government’s is a clear plan of action and a support package to help the hospitality sector. Accompanying this should be a wider plan to change the industry and ensure its workers are up-skilled, better paid and have access to recognised trade unions in their workplace”.

Flybe collapse is a source of concern for Unite members at Cardiff Airport

Unite the union is calling for a co-ordinated strategic response to Flybe’s collapse in order to ensure Cardiff Airport remains as a viable strategic transport hub for the future. Following on from the collapse of Thomas Cook and its effect on flights out of Cardiff, the demise of Flybe will add significant challenges to the future viability of Cardiff Airport.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales regional secretary, commented: “Losing Flybe traffic from Cardiff airport is a very worrying development that will leave hundreds of Welsh workers extremely concerned. Cardiff is Wales only large scale commercial airport and it is of the highest importance that it not only survives, but that it thrives and grows.

“The Welsh government has worked extremely hard, alongside the workforce and airport management to try and grow the airport in what is an extremely difficult period for the industry. The UK government must now step up to the plate and ensure that crucial infrastructure such as Cardiff Airport are financially supported in order to remain viable. Infrastructure support should not stop with Crossrail and HS2, Wales and other peripheral parts of the UK are clearly being overlooked and left behind.

“For Cardiff Airport to have a bright future needs a co-ordinated strategic response from all levels of government. In these difficult times it is about time Boris Johnson’s government showed that it is interested and willing to support critical strategic Welsh infrastructure. Failure to do so will have negative economic implications for the Welsh economy long into the future.”