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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 08:49 GMT
1,000 jobs go at BAE Systems
BAE superberth shipbuilding site
BAE's shipbuilding operations are being shaken up
BAE Systems, Europe's biggest defence contractor, is cutting more than 1,000 shipbuilding jobs as part of a sweeping consolidation of its maritime operations.

It said 700 jobs would go at Barrow-in-Furness, 265 in its shipyards on the Clyde, 50 at Waterlooville and up to 30 jobs at Farnborough.

The firm stressed that it would enter into consultations with employees and trade union representatives.

BAE Systems, which is waiting for the UK Ministry of Defence to decide on a raft of multi-billion-pound contracts, now plans to consolidate its work on the Type 45 Destroyer programme into its Clyde shipyards.

The new cuts, BAE said, "reflect the need to continue to maximise efficiency whilst retaining the full capability to deliver Sea Systems products into the UK and export markets."

Waiting for work

BAE Systems said there was no prospect of a sufficient increase in workload at its shipyards, which have been running at well below capacity in recent years.

The main focus of its attention is an estimated 3bn contract for new aircraft carriers from the Ministry of Defence, for which it is competing with French firm Thales.

They will need these craftsmen... to be seen as serious contenders for the new aircraft carrier contract

Jim Moohan, GMB union

The contract is expected to be awarded by the end of January but speculation is increasing that the job will go to Thales.

Some analysts interpreted remarks last week by Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon as preparing the company for bad news.

He said BAE Systems could no longer be regarded as a British company because more than 50% of its shares were foreign-owned.

Barrow's 'vital role'

BAE Systems' Underwater Systems division is also awaiting the award of various contracts.

In the meantime, the firm said it was not able to find enough work to keep its staff busy.

Defence procurement minister Lord Bach said he was "very concerned" to learn about the redundancies.

"Barrow has played a vital role in producing submarines for the Royal Navy and I am confident that this role will continue."

Jim Moohan, the GMB union's senior organiser for shipbuilding and manufacturing in Scotland, said the job losses were "a cruel blow".

"It could prove to be a short-sighted move on the part of the BAE management if these people are lost to the industry.

"They will need these craftsmen for their long-term strategy to build Type 45 frigates here and to be seen as serious contenders for the new aircraft carrier contract."

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's John Thorne
"The shipbuilders of Barrow were numbed by the job losses"
  The BBC's Hugh Pym
"The government appears to be at loggerheads with its leading defence company"
See also:

21 Jan 03 | England
19 Jan 03 | Business
29 Oct 02 | Business
28 Nov 02 | England
26 Nov 02 | England
14 Oct 02 | Scotland
12 Sep 02 | Business
11 Sep 02 | Business
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