BAE Systems plans to cut 620 jobs across UK

BAE Systems have outlined proposals to cut more than 600 jobs at sites across the UK and close its Newcastle factor

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BAE Systems is planning to axe more than 600 jobs and close its Newcastle factory where tanks were made for World War I.

Subject to consultation, some 620 jobs could be lost at sites across the UK, including up to 330 at Newcastle.

About 200 jobs will be lost at sites in its munitions business, including Radway Green near Crewe and Glascoed, near Pontypool and 97 in Washington.

Up to 10 jobs may go at the firm's head office in Farnborough, Hampshire.

The firm said the proposals, now under consultation, followed major efficiency improvements and reductions in orders required by the Ministry of Defence.

BAE said the proposal to close the old Vickers site in Newcastle at the end of 2013 followed a business review that concluded that there was no prospect of new UK armoured vehicle manufacturing work once production of the Terrier ends.

'Devastating news'

Managing director Charlie Blakemore said: "We need to adapt to very challenging market conditions and further reduce our overheads to drive better value for our customers and increase our competitiveness in the export market.

"I know that this is difficult news for employees and we will do all we can to help them through this difficult period and mitigate the proposed job losses wherever possible."

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, said: "This is devastating news for the city and the region, and a tragedy for the 330 workers and their families.

"Our top priority is the future of the workers, so I have asked the council's chief executive to set up a taskforce which will help the workers find alternative employment and bring all the relevant public and private partners together to respond effectively.

"Bearing in mind that these are highly skilled engineering and manufacturing jobs, and we have until the end 2013 when the plant will close, I am confident that we will be able to help find them jobs elsewhere so their skills are not lost to the region.

"Manufacturing on the Tyne has a proud history, but also great potential for the future."

'Hammer blow'

Rehana Azam, national officer of the GMB union, said: "BAE Systems have a highly experienced and skilled workforce and these job cuts are yet another blow to manufacturing.

"Representations are being made to MPs to see what can be done to retain skills within BAE Systems and in traditional industrial areas of the UK."

Kevin Rowan, regional secretary of the Northern TUC said: "The announcement from BAE Systems is a hammer blow to North East manufacturing.

"Losing so many highly skilled and well paid jobs is devastating for all individuals concerned as well as to our local economy."

The efficiency improvements stem from a £200m five-year transformation programme launched following a 15-year partnering agreement signed with the MoD in 2008.

The company has already announced the consolidation of the rest of its UK armoured vehicle support work into its Telford facility in Shropshire.

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