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Thursday, June 24, 1999 Published at 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK

Business: The Company File

BAe cuts 2,200 jobs

BAe built the RAF Harriers used in Nato's bombing of Yugoslavia

British Aerospace (BAe) is to cut 2,200 jobs in the UK.

Eight-hundred jobs will be lost with the closure of the Dunsfold facility in Surrey where the Harrier jump-jet was made until last year.

All the RAF Harriers used by Nato in the recent operation in the Balkans were built at Dunsfold.

Rory Cellan-Jones reports: "Unions were shocked at the scale of job losses"
The company will be seeking a further 1,400 voluntary redundancies - with more than half of these coming from Wharton in Lancashire and nearby Salmesbury.

Other redundancies are being sought at Chadderton in Greater Manchester, at Brough near Hull in East Yorkshire, at Prestwick in Scotland and at BAe headquarters at Farnborough in Hampshire.

Anger in the Commons

The cuts have been denounced as "incomprehensible" in the House of Commons. The Labour MP for Pendle, Gordon Prentice, said the Wharton plant was the "lifeblood" of his constituency.

He said he could not understand why the jobs were being cut when BAe had received a huge boost with the decision to produce the new Eurofighter jet.

[ image: BAe wants to make its manufacturing processes more efficient]
BAe wants to make its manufacturing processes more efficient
The closure of Dunsfold reflects the reducing workload associated with the Harrier programme.

A BAe spokesman said talks would begin immediately with staff and unions at Dunsfold about redeployment at other sites across the UK.

"New build production of the Harrier finished last year. Since then the company has been using Dunsfold to get involved in maintenance and the upgrade of Harriers," he said.

"That work is now reducing quite significantly and it is no longer financially viable to keep the site open," he added.

Eurofighter Typhoon

Martin Shankelman: "BAe says a labour survey showed a number of workers interested in voluntary redundancies"
The wider job losses are also partly due to the ending of production of Tornado aircraft and a switch to less manpower-intensive working processes.

Efficiency and productivity improvements mean that BAe's big project, the new Eurofighter Typhoon, will require only 18 months to build compared to 36 months for its Tornado predecessor.

[ image: Tornado production is a key factor in the shake-up]
Tornado production is a key factor in the shake-up
The company said the cost of implementing the restructuring would result in pre-tax exceptional charges totalling £250m.

BAe chief executive John Weston said the company had orders which at the end of last year stood at over £28bn.

Union leaders were seeking urgent talks with the company to discuss the scale of the cutback.

Ken Jackson of the AEEU: "Disappointed"
Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, said the announcement was a "bitter blow" to the workers who will lose their jobs.

"They have made enormous strides in productivity in recent years. The Harrier is the last fighter built solely in Britain and it is a shame this is happening.

Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice: "British Aerospace is the lifeblood of Lancashire"
"The workforce does not deserve to have their lives turned upside down like this.

"Strategically we need to keep capabilities to build planes like the Harrier in this country."

Cabinet minister, Margaret Beckett expresses her sorrow at the news, in the House of Commons
Aerostructures for Airbus planes are made at Chadderton, while Brough is involved in Hawk manufacturing.

A spokesman for Surrey County Council said the announcement had come as a "deep shock" adding: "We are extremely concerned at the loss of high-quality, high-tech jobs - this is a blow to the county and the wider region."

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