Jobs in balance as defence firm talks to unions

A Royal Navy Sea King during the exercise.
A Royal Navy Sea King during the exercise.
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A HELICOPTER repair firm employing 1,000 people in Gosport has said it needs to reduce its workforce as a craft it works on is being phased out.

Vector Aerospace, based at Fleetlands, on Fareham Road, said there has been a ‘fall-off’ in its work maintaining, repairing and supporting the Ministry of Defence’s fleet of Sea King helicopters.

The defence firm said work has already been cut back as the helicopter will not be used by the MoD by early 2016.

In a statement, a spokesman said: ‘It is only right that the company now starts a period of formal consultation with the trade unions.

‘The reduction in Sea King work will affect the company in 2014 so it is necessary to start the consultation process.

‘The process will take several months to complete.’

The firm added it did not know how many jobs will be affected but it hopes to win new contracts over the next six months.

The statement added: ‘It is too early to speculate about the numbers involved as there is still some uncertainty with respect to the size and shape of the final phase of work in support of Sea King.’

Councillor Dennis Wright is the leader of the Labour group at Gosport Borough Council and ward member for Bridgemary North.

He said: ‘It’s very disappointing news indeed, particularly on top of the news we had about Portsmouth Naval Base.

‘Unfortunately it seems to be a growing trend in the area at the moment, which is obviously a source of concern.

‘A lot of people have worked there for a very long time.

‘We’ve got Gosport people working in the dockyard and in Fleetlands.

‘It will affect the local economy without any doubt.’

Vector Aerospace has announced to employees it is entering into consultation with trade unions.

The multinational firm took over the maintenance of helicopters at Fleetlands in 2008.

Then in July 2011 Eurocopter Holding, which is a subsidiary of the EADS group, acquired 98.32 per cent of the firm.

The Fleetlands site also houses Boeing, which works on the MoD’s Chinook helicopters.

Vector says it has a new 
business development programme and is winning contracts in aero engine maintenance and repair but that it takes time to change the business.