Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite the union, was today pledging his full support and determination to fight for high-skilled local defence jobs during a meeting with union members at BAE Systems’ Samlesbury site.
Mr McCluskey, who is standing for re-election to the top job in Britain and Ireland’s biggest union, told Unite reps that the Government should back development of a new sixth generation fighter to follow the F35 and Typhoon.
He said he was committed to stopping the “exportation” of their skills and jobs through the off-shoring of assembly work and he urged the government to use the BAE model to put decent apprenticeships, training and skills at the heart of its industrial strategy. He said: “Aerospace employs more than 16,000 in the North West, almost 20 per cent of national employment in the sector. Our members at BAE need government assurances that their high-skilled, highly-respected jobs, which are so vital to the prosperity of Lancashire communities and to the north west economy as a whole, will be secure post-Brexit.
“The long-term future for members there has been uncertain without the government’s commitment to sixth generation fighter jets.
“Now, more than ever, the prime minister must commit to an industrial strategy that retains access to the European markets on which their jobs and skills rely.”
MrMcCluskey welcomed BAE System’s commitment to train a record number of apprentices and to take on over 500 this year. He said the apprenticeships on site were “world class”.