600 jobs to go at BAE

Defence giant BAE Systems is to axe more than 600 jobs at sites across the UK and close its Newcastle-upon-Tyne plant at the end of 2013.

Some 330 jobs will be lost at Newcastle, while 280 will be lost at sites in BAE's munitions business, including Radway Green near Crewe, Washington in the North East and Glascoed in South Wales. Up to 10 jobs could also be lost at the business's head office in Farnborough. BAE said the proposals, now under consultation, followed major efficiency improvements and reductions in orders required by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Managing director Charlie Blakemore commented: "We need to adapt to very challenging market conditions and further reduce our overheads to drive better value for our customers and increase our competitiveness in the export market. I know that this is difficult news for employees and we will do all we can to help them through this difficult period and mitigate the proposed job losses wherever possible." Unite described the announcement as 'a wake-up call' to defence secretary Philip Hammond to formulate a coherent procurement strategy that safeguards the future viability of jobs in the defence sector. The company's national officer Ian Waddell said: "The lack of an industrial strategy for the defence industry is putting highly skilled jobs at risk and bringing economic misery to areas, such as Newcastle, that have already been battered by the government's austerity programme. "Philip Hammond needs to get a grip of defence procurement policy and provide a blueprint to safeguard future jobs and skills for this industry. There is a desperate need for a defence industrial strategy where the government clearly lays out its plans for defence spending, allowing industry to plan and invest with confidence."