Defence workers have been left “numb” at savage job cuts which they fear could lead to Lancashire losing generations of jet-building talent.
Staff at BAE Systems were yesterday told that more than 1,400 jobs are to go at the company’s factories at Warton and Samlesbury, near Preston, and satellite offices in Preston.
Trade union officials warned the latest cuts will “rip the heart” out of communities around both plants and will “fight tooth and nail” for jobs.
Talks will start between unions and management tomorrow and see unions calling for more of the company’s senior executives to take the hit.
The cuts would see a quarter of manufacturing workers on both sites axed.
Phil Entwistle, convenor for the Unite union which represents the manual workers, said: “We are going to lose the ability to build an aircraft from cradle to grave and leave this country reliant on others, it will destroy Lancashire and rip the heart out of Samlesbury and Warton.
“People are shocked and numb about it, they are asking, ‘why are they hitting us again?’
“It is the manual population which has born the brunt of four redundancies in two years.
“We are running out of numbers of people who want to go and sub-contract work we can bring back, so we are running out of options to avoid compulsory redundancies.”
It will see 843 jobs go at Warton and the Preston offices with 565 more at Samlesbury. Manual employee John Wilson, who has been with the firm for five years, said: “There were lads coming in from the briefing shell-shocked, everyone is numb. We knew it was coming but did not think it would be this many.”
Colleague Alan Smith, who lives in Samlesbury, said: “BAE is this village, if they keep taking people out, it is going to filter through, everyone will feel it.”
Another worker said: “People are as angry about how this has come out. We read about it on Sunday and the company has only told us now.”
A member of fitting staff said: “It is the manual staff that is taking it again, we are the people that make the products that make the money.”
Employees have spoken about strike action.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “We are in touch with the company, local authorities and local enterprise partnerships to make sure that everything possible is done to help those affected.”
Labour party leader Ed Miliband said BAE workers had been “sold down the river” by the coalition.
BAE Systems chief executive Ian King said yesterday the Lancashire job losses were a result of changes to its flagship Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 Lightning II jet projects.
He said: “To ensure we remain competitive, in the UK and internationally, we need to reduce the overall costs of our businesses in-line with our reduced workload. The proposals aim to put the business into the right shape to address the challenges we face.”