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08 Apr 04. BAE Systems on Thursday said it was cutting 1,000 jobs in its air systems division, or about 10 percent, over the next two years because of a slowdown.

BAE said the latest cuts would affect plants at Warton and Samlesbury, both in northwest England. The company said the job losses reflected lower workloads expected at some parts of the air systems business in the next few years.

The division, which is involved in projects including the Joint Strike Fighter program — led by U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp. — and the Hawk jet trainer, employs around 10,000 people. BAE employs some 90,000 people worldwide.

“We know it will be a tough time for all those affected,” Air Systems group managing director Nigel Whitehead said. “However it is the only way to ensure a viable future for this business.

“We have been briefing employees for the past six months to expect some major job losses, so today’s announcement will not be a great surprise. “Whitehead added that the majority of job losses would be achieved through voluntary redundancies, although there was still a chance of some compulsory cuts.

“We have been working very closely with our trade unions and they have been very supportive in trying to mitigate these losses to an absolute minimum,” he said.

This announcement comes hard on the heels of a similar announcement, on Friday April 2, that BAE planned to cut 760 jobs from its submarines sector because of a slowdown in business. The cuts will be in addition to some 1,000 jobs shed last year from BAE’s shipbuilding sector, a spokesman said.

Of the new reductions, 720 will affect the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard, where some 700 jobs were axed last year. The submarine-building facility there will continue to employ about 3,000 people, BAE spokesman Richard Coltart said.

He said the latest cuts were due to a reduced workload and a shortage of orders. The company would first ask for voluntary retirements, then resort to compulsory layoffs if needed.

In a statement, BAE said the cuts were necessary to improve performance and reduce costs. About 40 of the latest job cuts will affect BAE submarine business employees in southern England.

Comment: And still the government refuses to comment! BAE has used job cuts prior to these as a way of persuading the Government to award contracts and maybe the government is na├»ve enough to believe that the company is still sabre rattling! This time these cuts are as a result in a slowdown in business and if Gordon Brown has his way this won’t be the end in his constant thrust to cut the defence budget. The serious effect on the company with regard to the GD/Alvis deal has yet to take effect. That deal effectively takes BAE out of the U.K. Land Systems business, a potential growth area and leaves it’s Barrow artillery business looking vulnerable, will this too fall to GD and will the Barrow Submarine plant become a JV with GD now that there are 150+ GD engineers at Barrow?

If BAE fails to convince the Government that its Nimrod solution can manage other operations other than searching for non-existent Russian submarines, that is where the next axe will fall, if BAE fails to get the problems on Typhoon in order and convinces the Governments of Europe to continue with Tranche 2 that is where the next axe will fall, if BAE fails to get a seat on the FRES tables that is where the next axe will fall and so on. Unlike its engineering counterpart Rolls-Royce, BAE has chosen to play hardball with the Government using lobbying powers rather than get its house in order. Now it is doing both and the Government will need some convincing that this is the beginning of serious job cuts. As the company outlined last month, the business accounts for a huge number of jobs in the U.K. and however unpalatable it will be, both sides must get round the table and consolidate a strategy to protect high-tech jobs in the

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