BAE Systems to Cut 1,775 Jobs

BAE Systems recently announced that it will cut 1,775 jobs at its Scotland and England yards, and end shipbuilding completely at Portsmouth.

The company said that 170 agency workers and 940 staff members will be laid off at the Portsmouth location, which will undergo repairs and maintenance.  Additionally, 835 jobs will be eliminated at yards in Scotstoun and Govan, on the River Clyde in Glasgow, at the Filton office near Bristol, and at Rosyth in Fife.  The cuts immediately follow a downturn in work after the completion of aircraft carrier work.

BAE heads up a consortium that includes Thales and Babcock UK.  The company said that it had agreed upon changes to the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier contract it signed in 2009 with the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

According to a statement released by BAE Systems:

“Under these proposals, shipbuilding operations at Portsmouth will cease in the second half of 2014.  Subject to consultation, Lower Block 05 and Upper Blocks 07 and 14 of the second Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier will be allocated to Glasgow. The company remains committed to continued investment in the Portsmouth area as the center of its Maritime Services and high-end naval equipment and combat systems business.

The company proposes to consolidate its shipbuilding operations in Glasgow with investments in facilities to create a world-class capability, positioning it to deliver an affordable Type 26 program for the Royal Navy.”

The jobs in Portsmouth are scheduled to be eliminated in 2014, and those in Filton through 2016.

The MoD has said that it will commission three new ocean-going, Offshore Patrol Vessels, which will “[perform a] key role in counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations”.  The vessels will be built at BAE’s Govan and Scotstoun yards in Glasgow.  Work on the vessels is scheduled to begin in 2014, and the first ship will be delivered to the Royal Navy some time in 2017.  The vessels will replace the smaller River Class ships that currently police the UK’s waters.

Of the deal, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond states, “This deal will provide the Royal Navy with three brand new maritime patrol vessels with a wide range of capabilities which will support our national interests and those of our overseas territories.  This is an investment not only in three ships but in this country’s warship building industry. It prevents workers standing idle and sustains the vital skills needed to build the planned Type 26 frigate in the future.”

The MoD will be charged with meeting the cost of restructuring the shipbuilding business across the UK.

Chair of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions’ shipbuilding national committee expressed that the announcements had been part of “a devastating day for the UK shipbuilding industry.”

As with many of the closures happening in the United States, workers are worried and disappointed, but not surprised.  Said Alex Taylor, a plater at Govan, “We’ve known for a while that the workload isn’t there to carry the amount of people that we had building the carriers, but hopefully voluntary redundancies will take up the slack.”

Workers at Scotstoun and Govan were sent home for the day after receiving the news.