North Wales site hardest hit by 1,700 Airbus job cuts

Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent, Adam Hale, Wales Correspondent
·3-min read

Aerospace giant Airbus has revealed details of its plans to axe 1,700 jobs because of the impact of the coronavirus crisis, with its plant in North Wales set to bear the brunt of the cuts.

The company said it had opened talks on its “adaptation plan”, which it unveiled earlier this week in response to the collapse in air travel as a result of the pandemic.

As part of the discussions, Airbus confirmed the need to reduce its workforce in the UK by around 1,700.

It announced that 1,435 jobs will be cut at its site in Broughton, North Wales, and 295 at Filton, Bristol.

A statement said: “These figures include integrated corporate functions which support all divisions in the UK.

“This split reflects the significant impact the Covid crisis has had on the UK’s commercial aircraft manufacturing activities which are concentrated in Broughton.

“Airbus will continue to meet regularly with its trade union partners in the UK in order to identify solutions that will help us implement this adaptation while minimising the social impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the company.”

The Broughton site makes wings for Airbus.

Peter Hughes, Unite’s Wales regional secretary, said: “The level of job losses planned for Broughton are far larger than we originally anticipated and can only bring into crystal-clear focus how urgent the need for UK Government intervention now is.

“Welsh Government have committed to doing everything they can, but the financial intervention that is now required to support jobs at Broughton can only come from Westminster.

“Our calls for Boris Johnson’s Government to intervene in the crisis that is engulfing the aerospace sector have so far fallen on deaf ears. They can’t hide anymore, the voices of thousands of workers and their families from across North Wales and north-west England are screaming for help.

“The governments of France and Germany are already acting to support their aerospace workers. If the UK Government does not do the same then our country’s position as a world leader in the aerospace sector will be consigned to history.”

Daz Reynolds, Unite’s convenor at Broughton, added: “Our members at Broughton are devastated to hear of the scale of the job losses for our site.

“We are a world-class workforce who have built up Broughton to be one of the best manufacturing sites in Europe. The workforce recognises the enormous challenges facing Airbus and are prepared to look at every avenue available to mitigate the proposed job losses.

“Our position remains that we will not accept one single compulsory redundancy at this site.”

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “The scale of the job losses at Airbus Broughton is heartbreaking for the workers and their families and extremely worrying for the wider community.

“I continue to work closely with the company, the trade unions and the Welsh Government to do everything we can to support employees at this incredibly difficult time.”

Wales’ minister for international relations, Eluned Morgan, said the news was “devastating” not just for Airbus staff but for “the entire economy of Wales”.

She said: “We have to understand the impact and the contribution that company makes to the broader economy of Wales as well.

“Clearly this is a larger number of jobs than we feared may happen.”

She added: “Crucially we will be working with the UK Government to make sure that we keep on pressing to see if we can get more specific support for the sector.”

Katherine Bennett, senior vice president for Airbus in the UK, told PA that talks would be held with union officials about a redundancy package.

The jobs will go by the middle of next year, but she said some workers may choose to accept the package.

Some workers might be able to move to other parts of Airbus’s business, which include defence and helicopters, but fewer than 50 are likely to switch.

Airbus was on course to deliver 880 aircraft this year before the industry was hit by the impact on travel of the virus crisis.