NEWS COMMENT: Losing these highly-skilled workers is a major concern

It's been a tough time lately if you work for defence giant BAE Systems.

Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 18th January 2018, 10:07 am
BAE Systems engineers

Back in October the firm announced it would make 340 people redundant from its maritime services division in Portsmouth as part of a restructuring plan to shed 1,915 jobs across the country.

The warning then was that compulsory redundancies could not be ruled out. Now comes the news that employees feared. A total of 160 people are to be made compulsorily redundant from the company’s maritime sector.

While the company says that more than enough workers in total came forward for voluntary, some were not accepted because the company wanted to retain their skills and that means it’s going to be the dreaded tap on the shoulder for some.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

So the new year starts with employees worrying if they will get the call to their manager’s office to be told the news nobody wants to hear – you’re out of a job.

Although it’s not clear exactly where in the UK the 160 jobs will be cut, the reality is that Portsmouth is a major player in the firm’s maritime sector. The maritime services division in the dockyard is responsible for the upkeep of more than half of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet as well as managing and maintaining Portsmouth Naval Base on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

The division only came into existence in 2012 when BAE Systems Surface Ships split to form the two Naval Ships and Maritime Services businesses. Naval Ships then moved shipbuilding to Scotland in 2013, though the business still has employees on the naval base and at Broad Oak.

Some 175 BAE Systems staff were employed in the maritime services division after the changes, while 585 voluntarily left to take jobs elsewhere and 160 were made compulsorily redundant.

Now some of those employees who got kept on could face the chop.

BAE talks about needing to streamline its operations and so boost its competitiveness. If job cuts is what it takes to remain a world leader in its field and preserve the jobs of those who remain, then we must reluctantly accept it as necessary.

It’s true that the company has kept on some staff with skills, which is good for the city, though the flip is that it has led to compulsory rather than voluntary redundancies.

But losing any highly-skilled workers to our city is a major concern, and a cause for sadness.