Unpaid leave plan to save jobs at BAE

BAE Systems site at Warton

BAE Systems site at Warton

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AEROSPACE workers are being asked to take unpaid leave in a move which could save around 100 jobs.

Workers from BAE Systems’ Warton unit will hold a mass meeting at the Winter Gardens on Monday to decide whether to accept the proposal.

A deal has been worked out where manual workers would take up to a day’s unpaid holiday each month for a maximum of two years.

If the scheme, which is believed to be backed by the company, is approved it would mean there would be no compulsory redundancies among shop floor workers.

Mike Bleasdale, secretary for the Unite engineering union at Warton, said: “Early on in the consultation process we identified a number of imaginative ways which could mitigate the job losses and one idea was to reduce the working week.

“We tabled a proposal whereby all persons on the manual side would take a maximum of 111 hours unpaid holiday which equates to one day a month.

“This would also help retain skills and hopefully as new orders come in we would be able to go back to a normal working pattern.”

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A total of 565 redundancies have had to be found out of 2,200 manual workers at the Warton unit –which also includes Samlesbury, near Preston.

After voluntary redundancies and redeployments, that has been whittled down to a surplus of 188.

Further workers are poised to relocate to Airbus in Chester, and to other projects including to BAE Systems in Australia leaving around 100 jobs remaining at risk, which would be saved through the unpaid leave proposal.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies today welcomed the proposals.

He said: “All credit must be given to the company, the unions and the workforce for looking at everything possible to avert compulsory redundancies.

“At Warton and Samlesbury we have an incredibly highly skilled workforce so it would be nothing short of criminal for those skills to be lost.

“This is about preserving jobs and the skills which go with them.

“The Fylde is the home of British fighter jet manufacturing and I hope the workers agree to this proposal at their mass meeting on Monday.”

Last September BAE announced job cuts including 1,400 redundancies at Warton and Samlesbury, a total which also included white collar workers.

A spokesman for BAE said the company was in consultation with the unions but could not comment further before Monday’s meeting.

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