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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK
Fears for future of BAE plant
BAE plant at Prestwick
Workers are said to be shell-shocked
Uncertainty is growing over the future of 1,000 jobs at the BAE Systems plant in Ayrshire.

The aerospace giant's chief executive has hinted that it is seeking a buyer for the Prestwick factory - and that it could close if one is not found.

BAE said in a statement on Monday evening that it did not regard Aerostructures, which also has a base in Samlesbury, Lancashire as "core business".

The workforce is said to be shell-shocked by Mike Turner's comments, which came without any warning.

Sandra Osborne MP
Sandra Osborne: "Workers need to be told"

Staff were expecting to hear that unprofitable areas of the business were to close and that higher valued work would be moved to Prestwick, securing the plant's future.

However, employees are now afraid that they could end up losing their jobs.

The engineering union Amicus said there had been no consultation about any proposed sell off or possible closure.

BAE's statement said: "Aerostructures is a successful and viable business with a substantial order book comprising a number of long-term projects.

Company review

"BAE Systems' strategy is to focus on its systems integration businesses and to this end, Aerostructures does not form part of the core.

"The company is therefore reviewing whether the Aerostructures business should remain in BAE Systems ownership or whether the Aerostructures business strategy would be better served as part of another organisation where it would be a central part of the business."

One worker at the plant said everyone was in the dark about their futures.

He said: "I think it's a major shock that we've changed terms and conditions, and working practices to help the company get into profit.

'Major blow'

"And when we turn the corner to go into profit it looks like it's prime for a sell-off."

Another added: "(Closure) would mean just the same as to everyone else - mortgage, cars. It would be a major blow for the area.

"You really just have to hope for the best."

Ayr MP Sandra Osborne is due to meet BAE's management in an attempt to clarify the situation.

She said: "The strategy as far as I have been aware was to bring high-quality work in to Prestwick.

"If this is not the case, and the strategy has changed I think the workforce need to be told."

Last year BAE Systems announced that it was cutting 220 jobs at the Prestwick plant as it shed almost 1,700 jobs across the UK.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jane Chilton reports
"For workers the news has come as a shock"
See also:

27 Nov 01 | Scotland
27 Nov 01 | Business
15 Aug 00 | Scotland
13 Mar 00 | Scotland
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