The announcement that GE Aviation is to make 142 workers redundant at its factory at Bishop Cleeve in Gloucestershire is the latest blow to the region’s aerospace sector and is a direct result of the government’s failure to provide specific long-term support to an industry heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

GE Aviation’s Bishop Cleeve site designs and manufactures electronic and mechanical systems for commercial and military aeroplanes, its largest customers include Boeing and Airbus.

Industry downturn

Unite the union, which represents the workers at the factory, understands the job losses are a result of both the downturn in demand and a restructuring of the business.

Negotiations on the job losses are already underway and it is hoped that of the 142 proposed redundancies can be mitigated by the creation of 37 new roles, as part of the restructuring process. There are over 1,600 workers currently employed at the site.

Unite support

Unite will be seeking to ensure that the redundancies are voluntary rather than compulsory in nature. The redundancy process is expected to be completed shortly before Christmas.

The proposed job losses by GE Aviation follow announcements earlier this year by the company of 498 job cuts at its Nantgarw plant, 271 at is Caledonia site in Prestwick and 70 job losses at its propeller plant in Gloucester.

The difficulties being experienced by GE Aviation are reflected across the aerospace industry and are exacerbated by a lack of government support in the UK.

UK out of step

This is at odds with the position of other European nations including France and Germany which have provided substantial long-term support for the aerospace industry, to allow it to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and the downturn caused by the sharp reduction in aviation activity.

Unite has encouraged the company to utilise the government’s job support scheme to preserve jobs but there is a belief that as this only runs until next spring, it does not cover the challenges aerospace faces, with order books not expected to recover until 2021.

Bitter blow 

Unite regional officer Matt Allen said: “The announcement of the latest round of job losses will come as a bitter blow to the affected workers and this will be a highly worrying time for them and their families.

“Unite will be ensuring that the job losses are voluntary rather than compulsory and that our members are fully supported throughout this process.

“The fact is that these job losses are a direct result of the government’s failure to follow the lead of other European nations and provide bespoke long-term support to the aerospace industry.

“The UK is a world leader in aerospace but the government is simply not doing enough to support employers and preserve the jobs of highly skilled workers.

“The job support scheme is already proving to be ineffective. Although of good intention, it is failing to support or get take-up from companies and workers due to the short term nature of the scheme. The government is pushing too much of the cost away from the Treasury and onto companies and the workers.

This is not what France and Germany are doing. This is putting UK manufacturing at a disadvantage, it is damaging confidence, damaging jobs and will ultimately damage the economy.

“We appreciate the support given to us by the constituency MP – Laurence Robertson – who has written to the chancellor on behalf of Unite to push for further support for the aerospace industry but it is clear that much more needs to be done by the government if we want to retain the UK’s standing as a global leader within the industry.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.