MP calls crunch meeting over BAE Systems job losses as Prime Minister pledges support for exports and under-threat workers.

Part of the letter sent by Lancashire MPs to the Prime Minister urging action over the 2,000 BAE Systems jobs losses
Part of the letter sent by Lancashire MPs to the Prime Minister urging action over the 2,000 BAE Systems jobs losses

Fylde MP Mark Menzies is to meet senior management and unions at BAE Systems' Warton site on Friday to discuss the job loss crisis which could see almost 750 Lancashire workers lose their livelihoods

Mr Menzies tabled a question to the Prime Minister at Question Time on Wednesday and he has called a meeting of some 15 MPs with BAE bosses and union leaders in Westminster.

The BAE Systems Warton site which is set to lose hundreds of skilled workers

The BAE Systems Warton site which is set to lose hundreds of skilled workers

MPs from all parties across Lancashire have written to the Prime Minister to urge her to take more action to lessen the impact of the near 2,000 job losses nationally at BAE Systems announced this week.

It was signed by Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, Preston MP Mark Hendricks, Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith, Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle, Burnley and Padiham MP Julie Cooper, Blackburn MP Kate Hollern, and West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper.

In the letter the MPs said: "We are writing to ask you to intervene immediately to support the business and to take any action necessary to try to mitigate the impact. We must avoid compulsory redundancies and seek to find alternative work streams.

"We believe that ministers from the Ministry of Defence and from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should meet urgently with BAE Systems and trade unions to establish a task force to explore all opportunities to avert or mitigate job losses."

Fylde MP Mark Menzies held a meeting with Government ministers following the announcement which BAE Systems bosses said was necessary to streamline the business in line with the slowdown in orders for Typhoon and Hawk aircraft in years to come.

Although its work on the tail sections of the US designed F-35 stealth fighter is set to ramp up in coming years safeguarding skilled jobs, apart from last month's announcement of an order for 24 Typhoons and six Hawks from Qatar, new orders for the Typhoon and Hawk have yet to materialise.

Unions warned that the manual worker population at Warton and Samlesbury are set to lose 347 jobs, the professional workers 326 and the executive side 72.

Mr Menzies asked the Prime Minister in Parliamentary Question Time on Wednesday what the Government was prepared to do in the situation.

He asked: "Following yesterday's announcement of almost 2,000 job losses at BAE Systems, many hundreds of which are at Warton in my constituency where very dedicated and highly skilled people work, can the Prime Minister assure me that she will continue to ensure that she and her government does everything that they can to support export orders such as those to Saudi Arabia and Qatar but also to support those dedicated workers find other alternative employment and support the wider Lancashire economy."

Theresa May replied: "This is obviously a very worrying time for workers at BAE Systems including those a Warton. I can reassure him that the Department for Work and Pensions will make sure that they work with people and ensure they have all the support they need to find new jobs.

"That will include the rapid response service which will help with CVs, training and information about benefits, but we will also continue to promote our world leading defence industry right across the globe so that companies like BAE Systems can secure contracts for UK made equipment.

"Just last month the Defence Secretary signed a statement of intent with Qatar committing the country to the purchase of 24 Typhoons and Six Hawks from BAE. We will continue to promote these first class products of first class manufacturing and we also make sure that support is given to those who do lose their jobs."

Afterwards Mr Menzies said: "I am very pleased with the Prime Minister’s response. The Prime Minister has already been to both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in support of Typhoon and Hawk exports to the Middle East.

“The Defence Secretary was in Qatar just three weeks ago – this Government will keep on battling to help win orders for our first-class aerospace industry.

“I am now working with the Government to ensure BAE can mitigate as many of these job losses as possible.”

But Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said he was underwhelmed by the PM's response so far.

He said: "There was little concrete in the Prime Minister's response. not just about the immediate situation but the future for BAE Systems and for defence.,

"The chairman of the Defence Select Committee Julian Lewis, a Conservative MP, questioned ministers yesterday over the issue and made the point which I made earlier that the Government should engage strongly with BAE Systems on future strategy.

"This is not just an ordinary company. It is a company which has strong links to the Government because of its key defence capacity.

"The Prime Minister's response needs to be about much more than just what do do after picking up your P45 and it also needs to address the supply chain situation across Lancashire, because if BAE has to cut back, then supply companies too may have to."

Speaking about the joint letter the Lancashire MPs drafted, Lancaster and Fleetwood Labour MP Cat Smith said: "The loss of these highly skilled and well paid jobs will have a devastating impact on the Lancashire economy. Lancashire has a proud history of aerospace engineering and the jobs that are provided at BAE Systems are highly skilled.

"The company also provides high quality apprenticeships for younger people and maintains a supply chain of many thousands of people across the region. It’s critical this continues.”

Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley, said: "This decision is of massive detriment not only to my own constituency, but to Lancashire as a whole.

He said: “The presence of BAE in the North West is sizeable, providing literally thousands of skilled jobs to the region, I want to ensure that BAE has a strong presence in Lancashire for years to come.

"Not only is the company vital for the livelihoods of a small army of workers, it is crucial for a significant number of small-to- medium sized business that rely on BAE across the country.”