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BAE to axe 2,000 jobs

Worst-hit site will be Brough in east Yorkshire – where Hawk and Harrier jets were built – whose fate was sealed despite appeals from David Cameron and Ed Miliband

BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defence contractor, has brushed aside a plea by David Cameron to save high-level manufacturing jobs and is proceeding to axe around 2,000 posts.

The worst-hit plant will be Brough in east Yorkshire where BAE is to make 750 compulsory redundancies – a move described by trade unions as a “disgraceful dereliction of duty”.

The future of manufacturing at the facility – which built Hawk jets used by the Red Arrows display team – was put in doubt last September along with others around the UK but Brough’s fate was sealed despite a campaign to save it by workers and MPs, including Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The prime minister promised defence staff that he would put their case at a meeting with BAE boss Ian King but the company said on Thursday it expected to only save around 1,000 of the 3,000 jobs it had targeted in the autumn.

A spokeswoman said BAE had done all it could to transfer workers around the company and use a voluntary redundancy scheme to mitigate the cuts demanded by a downturn in UK, US and other national defence spending.

“BAE Systems has informed employees that it has now concluded consultation on the business proposal to potentially end manufacturing at Brough,” it added in a formal statement.

“This is due to no viable and practical alternative being found despite the extensive and meaningful consultation that has taken place with the trade unions and executive representatives,” it added. The company was originally intending to cut 900 Brough jobs but 50 staff have been redeployed and 100 taken voluntary severance.

Brough has been operating as a plane-building plant since 1916 when it was owned by the Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company. Among the famous products developed and constructed there was the Harrier jump jet and the Buccaneer used by the Royal Navy as recently as the Gulf war.

BAE said the timing of cuts outside of Brough would depend on various factors such as consultation periods. BAE said Hawks would be made in Lancashire and the company was still winning plane contracts in countries such as India, Oman and Australia.

The Unite union said it was now meeting with its lawyers to actively pursue legal action on behalf of the workers at the site.

“BAE Systems has displayed a disgraceful dereliction of duty to a world-class workforce,” said Ian Waddell from Unite. “Management has chosen to take the most extreme decision by unnecessarily opting to close Brough entirely. This means the loss of vital manufacturing capabilities and skills.”

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said it understood BAE had made the decision to cut jobs in response to changes in key international defence programmes and the need to remain globally competitive at a time when defence spending in many nations is under huge pressure.

It added: “We will continue to work with the company, local authorities and local enterprise partnerships to make sure that everything possible is done to help those individuals affected.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds