Government under attack as BAE Systems plans to axe almost 2,000 jobs

The Government has come under attack over its defence policy after the "devastating" news that BAE Systems is planning to cut almost 2,000 jobs in its military, maritime and intelligence services.

The defence giant said the aim is to streamline its business and have a "sharper" competitive edge, with redundancies spread over at least two years.

The biggest cutback will be in the military air business, with 1,400 jobs set to be axed across five sites over the next three years, including Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire, where the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft assembly takes place.

J obs will also be cut at Brough in East Yorkshire and at RAF bases in Marham, Norfolk, and Leeming in North Yorkshire.

About 375 proposed redundancies were announced in BAE's maritime servicing and support business, mainly affecting Portsmouth, and s ome jobs will go from the company's cyber intelligence business in London and Guildford.

Chief executive Charles Woodburn said: "The organisational changes we are announcing today accelerate our evolution to a more streamlined, de-layered organisation, with a sharper competitive edge and a renewed focus on technology.

"These actions will further strengthen our company as we deliver our strategy in a changing environment."

Unite branded the cuts a "betrayal" of workers and accused the Government of spending increasing amounts of its defence budget in factories overseas.

The union said that by 2020, around a quarter of the UK's defence spending will benefit American firms such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: "These are world class workers with years of training and expertise on which an additional four jobs rely upon in the supply chain.

"The UK Government must take back control of our nation's defence and with it, play its part in supporting UK defence manufacturing jobs."

BAE is facing an order gap for the Typhoon so production is being slowed ahead of an expected order from Qatar.

Production of the Hawk jet aircraft is ending in the next few years, affecting the Brough site, although Qatar could place a new order which would keep production going until 2021.

About 400 redundancies are being planned at Brough.

Most of the military air job cuts will go in 2018 and 2019, with some planned for 2020 and BAE said its goal is to achieve as many voluntary redundancies as possible.

About 375 job losses are planned for the maritime servicing and support business, with 340 in Portsmouth.

BAE's cyber intelligence business will cut 150 jobs, split between sites in London, Guildford in Surrey, and overseas.

The total number of proposed redundancies is 1,915.

A Government spokesman said: "BAE Systems have taken this decision as a result of internal restructuring. It is clearly a concerning time for their workers and the Government stands ready to support those affected.

"Our MoD spent £3.7 billion with BAE last year, and we also continually bang the drum for our world-leading defence industry right across the globe, supporting companies like BAE in securing contracts for UK-made equipment.

"Just last month the Defence Secretary signed a Statement of Intent with Qatar to buy 24 Typhoons and six Hawks from BAE."

Mr Woodburn said: "A ctions are necessary and the right thing to do for our company, but unfortunately include proposed redundancies at a number of operations.

"I recognise this will be difficult news for some of our employees and we are committed to do everything we can to support those affected."

Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said: " It is time for the Government to address the clear uncertainty that is felt by the industry and come forward with an urgent plan to save these jobs."

Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "BAE employs some very skilled people and we want to see their skills being put to good use in more positive and sustainable industries, such as renewable energy and low carbon technologies."

Prime Minister Theresa May told LBC: "Obviously this is an extremely worrying time for people employed by BAE.

"The government will be working very hard to work with the company and work with those who will be losing their jobs to help them into alternative employment."

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