A dire assessment of the aerospace industry’s current situation by Aerospace Wales Chief Executive John Whalley has prompted the Welsh Liberal Democrats to call for the Welsh Government to give the industry a much-needed financial lifeline.
Aerospace Wales is the umbrella organisation which represent aerospace companies in Wales. Collectively it employs around 21,000 people, with Airbus forming the largest share of this total.
In April, Airbus placed 3,200 members of its Broughton staff, roughly half their total number, on furlough. Recently a further 500 Airbus agency staff were told they are to remain on furlough but were facing imminent redundancy.
Speaking at the Welsh Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Whalley said the industry was facing 30% cuts in staff across the entire UK and might never recover to pre-crisis levels of employment.
This means Wales could face at least 8,000 redundancies, with many being high skilled production jobs in their North Wales facilities.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:
“The aerospace industry is a vital employer, especially in North Wales. Airbus forms the backbone of the local economy in and around Broughton. If we do not act now thousands of jobs could be lost overnight, devastating these communities.
“There are two things that need to happen. Firstly, the Welsh Government need to commit to making financial support available for companies like Airbus, who have seen their business ground to a halt due to the crisis and for whom there is no easy recovery.
“Secondly, we need to get big employers including Airbus, Debenhams, Ford, and others around the table to discuss what we can do to create a more business-friendly environment here in Wales.
“For too long we have struggled to attract new investment and often tried to tell the business community what will work for them. This needs to change, and we need to be working hand in hand with the business sector to nurture our economy and create more well paid and secure jobs.
“Unless we do both of these things then our economy will fail to bounce back, and we will slide into a long and severe recession. We cannot afford that. The people Wales cannot afford that. We must act now.”
Chris Twells, Welsh Liberal Democrat Lead Senedd Candidate for North Wales, added:
“We all knew that this pandemic was going to hit businesses hard, but the report from Aerospace Wales makes for dire reading.
“Aerospace businesses provide thousands of well-paid jobs across North Wales. These are jobs which we simply cannot afford to lose and that is why we need action now.
“I hope the Welsh Government will act swiftly to support these vital employers so we can avoid mass redundancies and give people the job security they deserve.”