Lancaster MP calls for action over job losses

Cat Smith.
Cat Smith.

The MP for Lancaster is one of eight MPs who have written to the Prime Minister calling for help after 2,000 jobs were axed at a Lancashire aerospace centre.

Cat Smith joined seven other MPs in asking Theresa May to “intervene immediately to support the business” after BAE Systems revealed the full extent of its plans to cut jobs in Lancashire.

The letter was signed by seven Labour MPs and Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley.

On Tuesday the defence giant issued a trading update to the city which revealed that 2,000 jobs in its military, maritime and intelligence services will be axed under moves to streamline its business and have a “sharper” competitive edge.

The biggest cutback will be in the military air business, with 1,400 jobs set to be axed across five sites over the next three years, including Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire, where the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft assembly takes place. This is due to the slowdown in orders for the Typhoon and Hawk aircraft.

“The job losses are rightly worrying many of my constituents who work at BAE,” said Ms Smith, who has called for a task force to be set up to avert or mitigate job losses.

“We believe that Ministers from the Ministry of Defence and from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy should meet urgently with BAE Systems and trade unions.

“We’re demanding they establish a task force to explore all opportunities to avert or mitigate job losses. Lancashire has a proud history of aerospace engineering and the jobs that are provided at BAE Systems are highly skilled. The company also provides high quality apprenticeships for younger people and maintains a supply chain of many thousands of people across the region. It’s critical this continues.”

Mrs May said: “Obviously this is an extremely worrying time for people employed by BAE. We will be working very hard with the company and will work with those who will be losing their jobs to ensure we can help them into alternative employment.”

Meanwhile David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, responded to criticism from local members of the Labour party for not signing the letter – saying he prefers to raise issues on a personal basis with ministers rather than signing joint letters.

Mr Morris said: “It is certainly very troubling to see job losses announced at BAE in Salmesbury and Warton, whilst the site is not in the constituency there could be some workers from Morecambe and Lunesdale affected.

“I have spoken to BAE Systems and will be kept updated on this going forward, but my hope is that as on previous occasions jobs can be found for those displaced workers on other projects.

“It is vitally important that we continue to promote the work of BAE especially the Typhoon jets to foreign markets particularly in the Middle East to fill the order books once again and retain our expertise and skills in Lancashire.”