DEFENCE giant BAE Systems has been urged to do everything it can to find jobs for 50 of its workers deemed surplus to requirements at its manufacturing base.
The firm has been carrying out a review of its manufacturing operations, including those at its site in Broad Oak, Hilsea.
As a result, 50 jobs have been identified as ‘surplus’ but BAE says it is committed to avoiding compulsory job losses.
Employees will be considered for retraining or redeployment to other parts of the business.
Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock said: ‘The proof of that will be in the eating. Once again there is a question mark hanging over skilled jobs.
‘I hope BAE is going to live up to what it is claiming and avoid any job losses.’
John Ferrett, negotiations officer for trade union Prospect and Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth North, was critical.
He said: ‘The news of job cuts at Broad Oak is extremely worrying, not least given the huge loss of skilled manufacturing jobs with the closure of shipbuilding.
‘This announcement exposes the complacency of government and local MPs, who have once again failed to ensure skilled manufacturing jobs are kept in the city.
‘For the past month we have had a procession of government ministers visiting Portsmouth, rehashing announcements which don’t actually deliver new jobs.’
But Conservative Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt rejected the claims.
She said: ‘The facts speak for themselves. We have seen unemployment halved; £1bn of investment in the sector in the city; a maritime task force chaired by Rear-Admiral Rob Stevens which has yielded results; record investment in research and development; two new engineering colleges next door and hopefully a university technical college in the city; tax breaks; assisted area status and 6,000 new apprenticeships.
‘Businesses go through all kinds of challenges and when they face tough times they know I will be there to support them and find solutions – that is my record and I am happy to be judged on it.
‘In stark contrast, Mr Ferrett, apart from making a placard, has done the square root of diddly squat.’
Ms Mordaunt said she was disappointed by the BAE jobs decision.
She said: ‘It is disappointing that despite the Spearfish contract being awarded, BAE is making this announcement.
‘I expect the company to be offering support to those facing losing their job and I’ll be monitoring that mitigation closely.
‘These are highly-skilled and sought-after workers but it will still be a very concerning time for them and their families.’
BAE said the jobs decision came on the back of a review into its future workloads.
A spokeswoman said: ‘Based on the current workload assumptions of our manufacturing operations within our maritime services business, we believe there is insufficient work to maintain our workforce at the current level.
‘Therefore, we are now engaged in consultation with our employees and trade unions regarding a number of potential surplus roles in this area at our Broad Oak and Hillend sites.
‘We are committed to working with our employees and trade unions to explore all potential opportunities to avoid, reduce and mitigate potential job losses.
‘This action will help us to remain competitive and sustain the workforce we need to deliver current and future programmes, providing a sound future in an increasingly competitive market.’
The news comes on the back of several government announcements delivering a boost to BAE’s Maritime Services division.
In November, the firm won a £600m contract to continue the management of the naval base and warship repair for the next five years.
Then in December it earned a £270m contract to upgrade Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes for the nation’s submarines.
And prime minister David Cameron came to the city this month to reveal BAE was one of two firms chosen to move into the shipbuilding halls it vacated last year.
Defence firm’s apprentice recruit search continues
BAE Systems says it continues to offer opportunities for young people and is urging more to take up its apprenticeship scheme.
The firm is currently recruiting for more than 80 positions.
A BAE spokeswoman said: ‘We are currently recruiting for more than 80 apprenticeship places available on a variety of different schemes which begin this September.
‘Based within the Solent region, there are opportunities available for craft, engineering technician and project control roles.’
The closing date for apprentice application submissions is 31 March 2015.
For information about the apprenticeships available visit ow.ly/JJ8Qc.