Unite Wales and First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford have signed a joint letter with the leaders of Scotland and Northern Ireland to the Prime Minister calling for ‘urgent intervention’ to safeguard highly-skilled jobs in the UK aerospace sector.

The First Ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – Mark Drakeford, Nicola Sturgeon and Arlene Foster – and the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill, together with the leaders of Unite in each of the three nations, want to see a UK aerospace taskforce set up immediately.

The taskforce would enable government, business and trade unions to collectively work together to support businesses, workers and communities in the sector.

It could take the aerospace sector up to five years to return to 'pre-pandemic levels'. Urgent intervention by the UK Government is essential as only it holds the levers to support the sector through the coronavirus crisis and beyond.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “As we approach the closure of the furlough scheme at the end of October, there is a real possibility of significant job losses across the UK.

“We have repeatedly called for the UK Government to reconsider its position and to extend the scheme, especially for sectors that have been particularly hard-hit like aerospace. Recognising where key economic powers lie, we need to see sector-specific approaches for these parts of the economy from the UK Government or the long-term impact will be severe.

“Wales would welcome the opportunity to work with the rest of the UK as part of an aerospace taskforce to help safeguard this important sector and the many thousands of people employed in Wales.

“I call on the UK Government to recognise the scale of the problem and to establish this without delay.”

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Secretary, added: “Unite is delighted to bring together the leaders of the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in this joint call 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.

"It’s clear that many of the measures required to support the sector reside with the UK Government, which is why we are collectively asking the Prime Minister to immediately establish a UK aerospace taskforce to coordinate support.

"In Wales, we have seen devastating job losses within the aerospace sector. During the coronavirus crisis we have seen thousands of redundancies announced at Airbus, GE, Magellan and British Airways. These are many of the best manufacturing jobs that we have in Wales. The crisis is also having a hugely detrimental impact within the aerospace supply chain in Wales. The sector desperately needs the support of UK Government.

“We hope the Prime Minister responds positively to this initiative and that every possible tool will be used alongside measures being enacted by the devolved administrations to preserve jobs and to sustain the aerospace sector throughout and beyond the coronavirus crisis.”

ENDS

The full text of the letter is below:

 

Dear Prime Minister,

 

The global pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the aerospace sector across the whole of the UK and 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 for new aircraft and for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) 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 doing 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 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 appropriate responses to support the businesses, workers and communities at risk.

The scale of this challenge cannot be underestimated and each government is absolutely determined and 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

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales

Arlene Foster, First Minister of Northern Ireland

Michelle O’Neill, deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland

Pat Rafferty, Regional Secretary, Unite the Union, Scotland

Peter Hughes, Regional Secretary, Unite the Union, Wales

Jackie Pollock, Regional Secretary, Unite the Union, Ireland


For further information please contact Glyn Conolly (Unite) on ‪07974 131771 or Madeleine Brindley (First Minister’s office) on 07581 494 532