Unite the union, First Minister and deputy First Minister, along with First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, issue joint call for ‘urgent intervention’ by Prime Minister Johnson to save aerospace jobs and skills

Jackie Pollock Regional Secretary of Unite was signatory to a letter involving the leaders of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland devolved authorities to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, demanding for ‘urgent intervention’ by the UK Government to preserve highly-skilled jobs in the aerospace sector.

The Unite initiative has brought together both Executive office Ministers, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill, Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford, and the leaders of the trade union in each respective region. The letter calls for the immediate establishment of a UK Aerospace Taskforce in order that government, business and trade unions collectively work together to support businesses, workers and communities.

In July, Unite commissioned a report by Acuity Analysis on the threat posed to Aerospace following a spate of redundancies in the sector in Northern Ireland.

The joint letter acknowledges that it is estimated that it will take three to five years for the sector to return to 'pre-crisis levels' and that urgent intervention by the UK Government is essential because the magnitude of intervention required is not within the power of the devolved institutions.

Jackie Pollock, Unite Regional Secretary in Ireland, added: “Unite is delighted to bring together the Leaders of the Devolved Administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, in a joint initiative to safeguard jobs in the aerospace sector. Tens of thousands of highly-skilled jobs and those supported by the aerospace sector in the supply-chain are on the brink of being lost forever. We are only six weeks away from a cliff-edge to the government’s Coronavirus jobs retention scheme which raises the prospect of job-losses on a devastating scale.

“While Unite will push for every measure possible to be taken within the competence of the Northern Ireland Executive. It’s clear that the powers to introduce the measures required to support the sector reside with the UK Government, which is why we are collectively demanding the Prime Minister to establish immediately a UK Aerospace Taskforce to coordinate support.

"In Northern Ireland, we have an unfolding crisis in the sector with already 1,800 job losses threatened and the prospect of more with the reduction in furlough supports. The threatened job losses to date will result in a £800m blow to the economy and £17.5 million reduction in household consumption. The Prime Minister must now respond positively to this initiative and ensure that every possible tool will be used alongside measures being enacted by the Devolved Administrations in order to preserve jobs and to sustain the aerospace sector throughout and beyond the Covid-19 crisis.”

ENDS

The Full Text of the letter is below:

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing jointly with regard to the global pandemic and its unprecedented impact on the aerospace sector across the whole of the UK. Urgent intervention is now required to preserve capability and avert further damaging losses.

The collapse in demand for global air travel has had a significant impact upon the aerospace sector, through reductions in demand for new aircraft and for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul activities due to grounded fleets. Whilst the general consensus is that it will take 3 – 5 years for the sector to return to pre-crisis levels, there is further uncertainty given the resurgence of COVID-19 being witnessed across Europe and the possibility of further outbreaks in the future.

Whilst our respective governments are playing our part to protect our sectors, we recognise that the severity of the immediate crisis goes beyond the tools available to us and requires urgent intervention from your Government.

To that end, and further to the letter from the economy secretaries to the Secretary of State for BEIS on 9th July, we collectively seek the UK Government’s agreement to urgently establish and convene an Aerospace Taskforce. This must include active participation from the Devolved Administrations and the appropriate level of representation from all key stakeholders including trade unions and aerospace businesses in order to identify the industry specific challenges and develop effective responses to support the businesses, workers and communities at risk.

The scale of this challenge cannot be overstated, and each of our governments is absolutely committed to its role in retaining the capability and expertise that enables the UK to retain its position in the global aerospace sector. We must do all we can to save jobs and mitigate the devastating impact on the sector and its workforce.

The establishment of an Aerospace Taskforce would be a positive signal to the sector, highlighting that all our governments remain committed to working together in order to preserve this sector that is hugely important to the whole of the UK, but we must act now.

Signatories

Arlene Foster, First Minister of Northern Ireland

Michelle O’Neill, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales

Jackie Pollock, Northern Ireland Secretary, Unite the Union

Pat Rafferty, Scottish Secretary, Unite the Union

Peter Hughes, Welsh Secretary, Unite the Union

  • For further information or an interview contact Donal O’Cofaigh, Belfast Press Office, Unite, tel. 07810 157926.