Questions need to be asked as Yeovil GKN helicopter jo...

Questions need to be asked as Yeovil GKN helicopter jobs put at risk

07 October 2016

Serious questions need to be asked about the reasons behind today’s (Friday 7 October) announcement that large scale redundancies are on the cards at the GKN plant in Yeovil which makes airframes for helicopters.

Unite, the country’s largest union, said the news from GKN Aerostructures that there would be large scale redundancies amongst the 300-strong workforce and, even possible closure of the site, was ‘a massive blow’ for the employees and the wider West Country economy. There is no timescale for any job losses.

The GKN workers make airframes for Italian-owned Leonardo Helicopters - formerly AgustaWestland – which is on the same site.

Unite regional officer Heathcliffe Pettifer said: “We understand that Leonardo wants to bring the airframe work in-house, but there are fears that this work would then be outsourced.

“Whichever way you look at it, this is a massive blow for the workforce and their families. These are highly skilled jobs which the West Country can ill-afford to lose.

“Unite will be meeting the management next week to explore in-depth the reasons for this announcement and how any job losses can be ameliorated. We will be doing our utmost to keep these manufacturing jobs here in Somerset and the site operating as a viable enterprise.

“The union will be giving our members all possible support during this very difficult time for them.

“This is another ‘wake-up’ call for ministers to get their skates on to formulate a coherent and robust industrial strategy, much talked about by prime minister Theresa May, that protects, nurtures and secures the UK’s manufacturing base and its millions of jobs as we enter the choppy waters caused by the Brexit vote.”  

In the summer, Leonardo lost out to Boeing in its bid to gain the majority of the work for the latest generation of Apache attack helicopters for the British army.

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 

  • 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.