‘Flexibility’ saves jobs

praise: Ben Wallace
praise: Ben Wallace
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BAE Systems has avoided any compulsory job losses in either its manual or professional workforce at its Warton and Samlesbury sites.

Last September, the defence giant announced 1,387 jobs were at risk, following a slow-down in both Typhoon and Joint Strike Fighter production.

Manual workers voted overwhelmingly in March to take one day’s paid leave per month to save more than 500 jobs.

And now unions say the professional workforce has also prevented any enforced losses after staff took a ‘flexible approach’ to retraining and redeployment.

John Cameron, trade union convenor for professional staff, said: “We haven’t had to go as far as the manual lads and lasses have in terms of a day off.

“People have been prepared to move and retrain and people taking voluntary redundancy has helped as well, obviously.

“We’ve had growth coming into engineering in particular.

“It’s about people being prepared to be flexible. There has been a lot of hard work and we thank our members for the flexibility they have shown.”

Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace has been working with the concerned parties since the job losses were announced.

He said: “I am delighted that local unions and BAE Systems management have combined innovative solutions in working patterns. This, along with the newly won Hawk jet business and redistribution of other work from the group has prevented compulsory job losses. Well done to all.

“The next challenge is to fight for more export sales and ensure the first class workforce has a long term future.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said it was a ‘remarkable’ achievement.

He said: “This is not a time to celebrate as clearly there are people who have accepted voluntary redundancy when, in an ideal world, they may have wished to carry on working.

“However, I think it is important to point out the tremendous lengths that both the staff and the company have gone to in order to mitigate the effects of the proposed job losses.”

Around 30 people have moved to different locations to perform different roles within the company, while an order for 22 Hawk trainer aircraft from Saudi Arabia in May saw a further 250 jobs secured.

A BAE spokesman said: “We are pleased to confirm that, through employees leaving on voluntary redundancy or to other parts of BAE Systems, additional work coming into the business and other innovative mitigations, we have been successful in avoiding the need for compulsory redundancies.”