THE fight is on to save all 1,300 potential job losses at BAE in Lancashire.
Union leaders said they want to head off all redundancies after shop floor workers voted by a huge majority to take 111 hours of unpaid holiday – one day a month – per year for the next two years.
The move saved 150 jobs at the firm’s Warton and Samlesbury plants.
Up to 2,000 shop floor workers gathered at Blackpool Winter Gardens on Monday to vote on the proposal. The move, suggested by union leaders, won overwhelming support from attendees.
Warton-based Unite union convener Bob Holmes (inset) said: “We’re hoping we can mitigate all the losses working with the company. We’ve a good working relationship with the company and this was a tremendous result. It’s win-win for the company, and win-win for the workers. It now means that the massive cloud we’ve been under for the past six months is coming to an end.”
Fellow Unite convener Phil Entwistle added: “We only counted around six hands that rejected the proposal and that shows the members are very conscious of the economic state of the company. It means a sacrifice that is well worth it.”
Worker Mark Wiles, 28, said: “At the end of the day we’re losing some pay, but not losing salary as it’s for unpaid leave. We’d all rather do that than see colleagues redundant. The important thing is to get more orders in.
“At least this removes the axe that’s been looming over our heads.”
The losses were announced last year following a slowdown in the production of Eurofighter Typhoon.
BAE site manager Ian Ward said the company had been mitigating losses through transferring people to other sites and business areas, as well as the move agreed by the union workers. He added: “It’s a good day for both the union and the company.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “It was a no brainer – a common sense solution. It shows to potential export customers the length workers will go to get a deal.”