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MPs and ministers urged to 'back UK defence indust...

MPs and ministers urged to 'back UK defence industry' as BAE workers get set to lobby parliament

24 October 2017

WHAT: Photo opportunity - BAE Systems workers unfurl banner ahead of lobbying MPs
WHERE: Opposite the Houses of Parliament, Old Palace Yard, Westminster, SW1P 3JY
WHEN: Wednesday 25 October 2017 - 09:45

Under threat defence workers from BAE Systems will be travelling from across England to the Houses of Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday 25 October) to lobby MPs and demand that the government takes back control of Britain’s defence capability and spends the UK’s defence budget to support jobs in Britain rather than in factories overseas.

The lobby organised by Unite, the UK’s largest defence union, follows plans by BAE Systems to cut nearly 2,000 jobs. The cuts, which will see significant job losses across Typhoon and Hawk aircraft production as well as RAF base support and at BAE’s marine division, come amid warnings that nearly 25 per cent of the UK’s defence spend will be benefiting American factories and firms such as Boeing by 2020. 

The lobby comes on the same day as the launch of a petition calling on the government to order new Hawk jets for the Red Arrows to replace the existing fleet made in the 1970s. Launched by Diana Johnson MP and backed by Unite, the petition calls on the government to take action to safeguard over 400 jobs and manufacturing at BAE's Brough site in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Fearing a ‘hollowing out’ of the UK’s ability to independently manufacture defence equipment to defend the  nation, Unite is also calling on the government to invest in the new advanced Hawk trainer jet, in addition to urgently committing to the future generation fighter jet programme and guaranteeing that it will be developed and built in the UK. 

Unite is also pressing for government commitments that the Type 31e Frigates and planned Royal Navy auxiliary vessels will be built in the UK  to support jobs, skills and communities.

Over 40 representatives from BAE sites including Brough, Warton and Samlesbury in the north west and Portsmouth, will be attending the lobby under the banner 'Back UK defence workers.'

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary with responsibility for aerospace and shipbuilding Steve Turner said: “In the last decade over 50,000 UK defence manufacturing jobs have gone while more and more of the UK's defence spend is going to factories and supporting workers in countries like the US. 

“Not only is this hollowing out the UK’s ability to independently manufacture the defence equipment needed to defend our nation, but it is also harming communities that rely on defence jobs and taking money out of the British economy.

 “As a result, the Conservative government risks leaving the defence of the UK exposed to the whim of foreign powers and corporations while funnelling increasing amounts of UK defence spend to American firms like Boeing.

“The continued outsourcing of our defence capability to foreign corporations is an unforgivable dereliction of government responsibility. 

“It would be shameful if government ministers allowed our world renowned Red Arrows to take to the skies in an American built aircraft rather than their trade mark British built Hawk jet because of their inaction.

“Government ministers need to take back control of our defence by investing Britain's defence budget which is taxpayers’ money here in UK defence jobs, skills and the communities that support them. 

“This means giving guarantees that the future generation of fighter jets will be designed, developed and built here in the UK along with the Royal Navy's Type 31e frigates and auxiliary vessels. 

“Ministers must also invest to support and if necessary control the development of the advanced Hawk and replace the Red Arrows' ageing fleet of planes with modern new Hawk jets. 

“Anything less would be a betrayal of defence workers and their communities as well as a gross dereliction of the government’s primary responsibility to defend our nation.”

ENDS

For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.