BAE merger 'too late to save Brough', union says
UNION officials at BAE Systems in Brough are unconvinced a proposed merger with a European aerospace firm would benefit the East Yorkshire site.
The defence giant has confirmed talks over a potential merger with Airbus aircraft manufacturer European Aeronautic, Defence & Space (EADS) to create the world's biggest aerospace and defence company.
BAE said a tie-up with EADS would form a "world-class" firm in its sector, with combined sales of £60bn and about 220,000 staff.
If the £29.8 billion merger went ahead, the group would employ about 48,000 in the UK.
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But union officials at the Brough site are unconvinced it will have a positive impact on their base, which has 200 people at risk of losing their jobs, as it continues to work through its redundancy programme.
Ian Gent, staff convenor at BAE Brough, said: "We are so far into the redundancy programme that started a year ago, even if the deal goes ahead, I can't imagine it having any effect on the timescale of the Brough site.
"It is hard to see what the immediate impact would be on us here.
"It is speculative at this time and there are an awful lot of hurdles to go through before any decisions are made."
Roy Cartwright, works convenor at BAE Brough, agreed with Mr Gent and said they are working to try to get third-party companies to commit to work at the site, to save jobs. He said: "It is early days yet but because of the decisions the company has already made about the Brough site, we think we will sit outside any merger and continue down the road we are going.
"I think that this would have little effect, if any, on us."
BAE is an expert in the field of defence, security and military, whereas the majority of EADS's work is in the commercial sector.
Despite caution of any impact on the Brough site, Mr Gent said he could see the positive effects this potential merger could have on the manufacturing industry in the UK.
He said: "Potentially, this could be a good thing because it consolidates manufacturing work in this country."
Mr Gent said that last year, the workers at Brough's BAE site expressed opinions over the company working with a civil aircraft manufacturer to try and increase business and in turn, help to save jobs, but he said this was dismissed.
Mr Gent said: "There is certainly a sense of irritation here at the moment, because BAE said to us that civil aircraft manufacturing was not the sort of work they wanted to be involved in.
"But now, they are talking of doing this merger, with a company that is a huge civil aircraft manufacturer."
A BAE spokesman said it was too early to confirm whether there would be any job losses as a result of the two businesses coming together but stressed there was very little overlap between the two business activities.
Mike Clancy, of Prospect, the union for 700 skilled engineers and other senior professionals at BAE Systems, said: "Private sector defence contractors have been under immense pressure because of cutbacks in government spending on defence.
"Whether the news of this merger brings reassurance or not for the workers depends on whether the new company will go for consolidation or growth.
"We are seeking early talks with the companies about the future strategic positioning of the business."
BAE said the proposed deal would be a merger, but would see BAE shareholders own 40 per cent of the combined group and EADS shareholders own 60 per cent.
The two groups are working on plans to create a combined firm that would retain its dual listing.
A BAE spokesman said: "The potential combination would create a world-class international aerospace, defence and security group with substantial centres of manufacturing and technology excellence in France, Germany, Spain, the UK and the USA."
BAE said the firms were in talks with governments worldwide about the implications of such a deal, given the sensitive and secure nature of their work.
Under City takeover rules, both firms have until October 10 to announce a deal or walk away.