Wales is bracing itself for more job losses, as aerospace giant Airbus which employs 6,000 people across the country is expected to announce a major restructuring programme in the coming days.
The plant at Broughton in Flintshire turns out more than 800 sets of wings each year, but with airlines grounded, the company said recently it is “bleeding cash” and needs widespread cuts to survive.
3,200 Airbus workers have been furloughed In Wales.
During the pandemic workers have been manufacturing ventilator parts in Flintshire but that work has now drawn to a close.
It is understood Airbus unions across Europe met yesterday expecting cuts in production in the region of 40%.
Precisely where the axe will fall is not yet known. The Unite Union says it’s hoping to negotiate a plan which will save jobs and skills for the long term, possibly including a shorter working week.
However, these measures are unlikely to be enough on their own. The union is also calling on the UK Government to support the sector after the French and German governments stepped in with rescue plans worth billions.500 agency production staff have already been laid off at Broughton and for every direct Airbus job, there are another 3 in the supply chain dependent on the company.
Only last week, Wrexham based Magellan which supplies Airbus announced plans to cut 240 jobs- nearly half its work force.
Aerospace and Defence are vitally important sectors for Wales with 160 companies supporting 23,000 Welsh jobs. 8/10 of the world’s top Aerospace companies have a presence in Wales adding over £5 billion pounds to the economy here.John Whalley CEO of Aerospace Wales representing the industry says:“We could be looking at a 30% cut in the sector due to Covid 19. That’s 7-8000 Welsh jobs. Recovery will take place but it will take longer than anything we have seen before and the world will change. It could take 3-5 years for the sector to recover.
Airbus has been described as "the jewel on the crown”, not just of Welsh manufacturing but across the UK. It’s order book at Broughton was full for 9 years before airlines haemorrhaged business and began cancelling or postponing orders due to Covid.
It has a large apprenticeship programme and the question now is will those well paid highly skilled jobs be there for the future.