‘Wall of silence’ on Yeovil GKN helicopter jobs ‘a dis...

‘Wall of silence’ on Yeovil GKN helicopter jobs ‘a disgrace’, says Unite

14 October 2016

The wall of managerial silence since last week’s announcement of large scale redundancies at the GKN plant in Yeovil, which makes airframes for helicopters, has been branded ‘a disgrace’ by Unite, the country’s largest union.

The union has written to GKN Aerostructures (Europe and Asia) CEO John Pritchard asking him to explain the reasoning for the redundancies amongst the 300-strong workforce and even the possible closure of the site.

The GKN workers make airframes for Italian-owned Leonardo Helicopters - formerly AgustaWestland which is on the same site – and speculation is rife that Leonardo wants to take the work back ‘in house’.

Unite regional officer Heathcliffe Pettifer said: “A wall of managerial silence from senior executives has descended following last week’s announcement - it is a disgrace.

“Our members are confused, angry, frustrated and feel badly let down - but they continue to turn up for work in that determined and professional way that is their hallmark.

“The reps have met with members and management locally at Yeovil. However, there has been very little news from CEO John Pritchard who is the key decision-maker - this is despite telephone calls and writing directly to him.

“However, as a result of my lobbying, the site’s general manager was asked to arrange a meeting with me on Tuesday (18 October).”

In his letter to John Pritchard, Heathcliffe Pettifer wrote: “Presumably GKN discuss these issues on a regular basis with customers, and feedback is actioned immediately.

“Did Leonardo give any kind of advanced notice that this work was not of an acceptable standard or it was no longer cost effective, leading them to bring it back in house?
“I need to be satisfied that due diligence has been applied, prior to Unite the union making any formal decision in response to last Friday’s announcement.”

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.


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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.