Fears for future as jobs axe falls

People coming out BAE Systems (Warton) at lunchtime
People coming out BAE Systems (Warton) at lunchtime
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“This was once a job for life – now we’re all terrified we’re for the chop.”

Engineer Trevor Parks is one of the 6,537 BAE Systems workers at Warton today fearing for their future after the aerospace giant confirmed it was to axe 800-plus staff on the Fylde coast.

The slowdown in production of the Eurofighter Typhoon has led to the job losses – BAE is to cut 3,000 staff across the UK, including 565 at Warton’s partner site at Samlesbury, near Preston.

Mr Parks, 39, from Freckleton, said: “We just don’t know what’s going on and when you’ve a family and mortgage that’s bad news.

“I don’t want to have to look for work now at my age and in this climate.

“There simply aren’t any jobs.

“It’s desperately worrying.”

“This site is getting smaller and smaller – who knows what will happen next. It’s horrible waiting to find out.”

Staff were told the news during a 15-minute meeting with management. There will now be a 90-day consultation between management and unions.

Stores worker Jon Towers, who is married with an eight-month-old daughter, said: “This is devastating. We knew it was coming but not to this extent.

“We don’t know what will happen next. It’s very uncertain.”

Engineer Stephen Daniels, who has worked at the plant for the past five years, said workers were taking a measured approach to the announcement.

He said: “There’s intelligent people in here – we could see the writing on the wall so it’s not a complete shock.

“We’re waiting for support briefings where we’ll find out what the impact on us is.”

Union bosses said they would be working with the company to mitigate any job losses and to help find work for any staff who lose their jobs.

John Cameron, of union Unite, said: “There’s a lot of worried people. It’s a huge blow – devastating news for the families involved. We’ll be doing everything we can to mitigate these cuts.”

And union colleague Mark Allen said: “Every BAE job supports more jobs in the wider community. Losing 1,400 people from Warton and Samlesbury could impact on 5,000 people in the North West.”

Blow

The loss of jobs at Warton will deal a devastating blow to the whole Fylde coast economy, experts warned today.

Combined with the potential axing of thousands of public sector jobs due to Government cuts, it is estimated the Fylde’s workforce will shrink by 6,000 jobs.

Damien Bourke, managing director of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company, said: “Everyone knows about the reductions in the public sector, and now this announcement by one of our biggest employers means this is a big issue for us.

“The impact on the economy will be around five per cent, which equates to around 6,000 jobs taken out of the area across the whole Fylde coast.

“These job losses will not only be felt in Fylde, but across Blackpool and the whole coast and it is essential that the local authorities and the private sector continue to work together to find new investments to help replace some of this highly skilled work. ”

In April, researchers estimated BAE was pumping £300m into Lancashire’s economy. Studies by Oxford Economics showed Warton spent £33m with local suppliers and a further 470 people were employed in jobs reliant on the success of BAE.

Meanwhile, Steve Jones, of Harbour Properties, a letting agent based on Lytham Road, Warton, which rents and manages properties for more than 200 BAE workers, said: “Warton has suffered badly in the past few years. We’ve just lost our Post Office and the library closed a few years ago and is going to rack and ruin, but this is a real kick in the teeth. It’s pretty hard to take.

“It’s a double whammy with everything that’s gone on in the past 12 months.

“It will affect all of the small businesses in the area – I’ve got colleagues in Warton and Freckleton and they are all today counting the cost.”

Christine Waring, who ran Warton Post Office for 13 years until it was forced to close temporarily two weeks ago, said: “People from BAE would queue outside the door at lunchtimes.

“I think these job losses are going to be a big blow because the village seems to be dying in many respects.”

Coun Julie Brickles represents Warton on Fylde Council and both her husband and son-in-law are employed by BAE.

She said: “It’s going to have a huge impact on Lancashire and I think cutting the workforce at Warton will have a significant impact on shops and businesses in Warton and Freckleton.

“The shops rely on BAE significantly, at the sandwich shop in particular it’s all about BAE.”

Sandwich seller Julie Greenaway, whose Sarni Bar regularly pitches up outside the gates of the Warton factory, said: “I am worried. Last time there were job losses it hit me bad. This is going to be just as bad I imagine.

“I only have this one pitch. If I take 20 sandwiches home then that is a loss for me.”

Chairman of Lytham Business Group Robert Silverwood said: “I feel very sorry for the workers at Warton, and there will also be an impact on the wider community, which will come right down to the high street.”