MP comments on AgustaWestland UK job cuts

MP comments on AgustaWestland UK job cuts

10-Oct-2011 Source: David Laws MP

David Laws, MP for Yeovil Constituency, today commented on the news that AgustaWestland has announced plans to cut up to 375 jobs at its Yeovil business, and at other UK sites. The job cuts are principally at the management level and in corporate functions, with the numbers of staff engaged in actual aircraft production remaining substantially unchanged.

David Laws MP: “This is clearly further bad news for South Somerset, in a period where there have been other major local redundancy announcements affecting the defence sector. I am very sad indeed for all of the staff whose jobs are at risk, and for their families. As with the other recent planned redundancies, I will work to achieve three results – firstly, to keep the actual job losses as low as possible; secondly, to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies; and finally, to identify new job opportunities for the future.

“I have already discussed the background to this decision with senior management of AgustaWestland, who have explained that the redundancies are necessary because of the general decline in UK defence-related work and because of delays to a number of important defence export orders. The redundancies will particularly affect management and corporate functions, rather than engineers and those engaged in helicopter production.

“The figure of 375 possible redundancies is the maximum number being looked at, including in other parts of the country, and it is possible that the final figure will be lower than this. It is also to be hoped that the number of compulsory redundancies will be much, much, lower than the 375 figure.

“It is a particular worry for me that these job losses come on the back of the total of 250 other planned redundancies already announced by BAE Systems and at RNAS Yeovilton. I will be meeting the Chief Executive of BAE Systems on 17th October to press him to look at reducing the planned job losses in Yeovil.

“Although the total defence job losses announced in our area in the last two weeks is now over 600, I am hoping that we can work together to keep the actual number of redundancies to a much lower figure than this – and to keep compulsory redundancies to well below 300. If we can do this, we can help limit the overall impact on the South Somerset economy, though of course any redundancies are very unwelcome.

“This news reinforces the importance of the work which is already underway at AgustaWestland to diversify the business away from reliance on defence orders, with an expansion of the civil helicopter programme.

“Possible orders for the new AW169 civil helicopter are going well, and this could help secure many jobs in Yeovil in the future. This week Graham Cole, the Chairman of AgustaWestland, along with Alberto De Benedictis of Finmeccanica and I met with Vince Cable, the Business Secretary to update him on progress on the civil programme.

“Graham and Alberto indicated that they are both working on bringing other civil helicopter business to Yeovil, including possibly work on the new Tilt Rotor AW609 programme. We had a very positive meeting with the Business Secretary, who indicated that he is willing to give consideration to further support for our efforts to create a new civil helicopter programme for Britain.

“I have also already spoken with the Leader of South Somerset District Council, Ric Pallister OBE, and I know that the District Council will do all it can to help those affected by the job cuts and to support the development of new businesses in our area – including through the new Yeovil Innovation Centre.

“The last week has been a tough one for many people in Yeovil, but while these job cuts are clearly a cause for concern, they are not a justification for panic. Our local economy is still strong compared with most parts of the country, and there is much that we can do to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies and to help secure additional job opportunities in the future. I intend to continue to commit a great deal of my time to tackling these challenges over the months ahead.” editor note – MP = “Member of Parliament”

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