Revelations that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is in sole discussions with Boeing to replace the Royal Air Force’s fleet of surveillance aircraft makes a mockery of Theresa May’s boasts of a cutting edge industrial strategy, Unite, the UK’s largest union representing defence workers, said today (Wednesday 3 October).
Accusing the government of outsourcing the nation’s defence capability at the expense of UK defence manufacturing jobs, Unite called on the defence secretary Gavin Williamson to reverse his decision to award the multi-billion pound contract to Boeing without an open competition.
Unite estimates that by 2020 nearly 25 per cent of the UK’s spending on defence equipment will go to US factories. The union understands that if the Ministry of Defence allowed an open competition that a joint bid by Airbus and Saab would result in a much larger portion of the work being done in the UK.
Unite assistant general secretary for aerospace Steve Turner said: “Theresa May boasted in her conference speech of a cutting edge industrial strategy that supports British industry and jobs.
“Yet at the same her defence secretary is in talks to hand over a multi-billion pound contract to Boeing in a move that would further hollow out the UK’s defence manufacturing capability.
“In the past 10 years over 50,000 decent well paid jobs have gone in the UK’s defence industry while an increasing amount of the defence budget is spent in overseas factories.
“It would be yet another betrayal of UK defence workers if the contact to replace the RAF’s surveillance fleet was handed to factories overseas without UK workers being given a fair crack of the whip in an open competition.
“The UK government has got to start making the right decisions and back UK manufacturing by making sure that British jobs benefit if the British taxpayer is paying for it.
“This means building these aircraft and the Royal Navy’s fleet solid support vessels in the UK using British steel. Anything less would make a mockery of the government’s boasts of a coherent industrial strategy.”
For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869
Notes to editors:

  • Unite represents workers in Britain and Ireland with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.