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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 13:54 GMT
Aviation jobs 'under threat'
Flying jets
Aviation jobs could be under threat from an RAF review
Up to 3,000 jobs in the Welsh aviation industry are at risk, according to union officials.

The Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU) has said the goverment is considering abandoning plans to create a centre of excellence at RAF St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

They said this would put workers at the Defence Aviation Repair Agency - Dara - in St Athan and Sealand in Flintshire at risk of redundancy.


If the bulk of Dara's work is taken away from it, first St Athan will close and then Sealand, and 3,000 high-tech jobs will be lost to Wales

Jack Dromey, TGWU
But the UK Armed Forces Minister, Adam Ingram, has dismissed the union's claims as "scare tactics".

The plan to create the centre of excellence, called the Red Dragon project, was unveiled in March and promised a jobs boom for the south Wales base.

Dara was to have been a hub of a joint development with the Welsh Development Agency of an aviation business park, which would bring civil and military aerospace work to Wales from around the world.

Mr Ingram said that consultation on the project has been extended but that it was still on target to go ahead.

Review

But TGWU General Organiser Jack Dromey said the Ministry of Defence had launched a review of the armed forces' aviation system in conjunction with BAE Systems, the biggest private aerospace manufacturers in Britain.

The review, called the cross-platform partnering - review, had not been made public, according to Mr Dromey.

He said it inevitably called into question the future of the Red Dragon project.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram
Adam Ingram: Claims are "scare tactics"
Mr Dromey told BBC Radio Wales: "That review is looking at an alternative way forward.

"It is to take the work Dara does, not to proceed with Red Dragon, but instead to service planes in future on a private venture basis between the MoD and the private sector at RAF establishments throughout the UK.

"That would spell disaster for Dara generally and for St Athan and Sealand in particular.

He said it would "without doubt" mean the closure of Dara establishments at St Athan and Sealand.

"If the bulk of Dara's work is taken away from it, first St Athan will close and then Sealand, and 3,000 high-tech jobs will be lost to Wales."

Shortlist

A spokesman for Dara said there was "no truth" in the TGWU's claims that there was a threat to St Athan or Sealand, and workers had been urged "not to take any notice of reports to the contrary".

"As far as the new facilities at St Athan are concerned, a shortlist of three preferred contractors has already been drawn up," he added.

Armed forces minister Adam Ingram said. "There is no threat to St Athan or Sealand and I condemn unreservedly the scare tactics being used which can only create alarm in the minds of those that work at Dara.

"The MoD will continue to look at how to obtain the best services at the best quality and price to meet our frontline needs.

"Dara is very much part of that process."

First Minister Rhodri Morgan has told AMs the Red Dragon project is going ahead and that there is no reason for any alarm.

He was due to meet Mr Dromey during the afternoon and said it was "not a very clever idea to create alarm in the workforce".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Rhun ap Iorwerth
"Unions say the MoD is being lured into servicing aircraft elsewhere."
See also:

07 Aug 02 | Wales
25 Jun 02 | Wales
05 Mar 02 | Wales
16 Nov 00 | Wales
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