Cross party support for Ayrshire aerospace industry

Members of East Ayrshire Council Executive Committee have unanimously agreed to support the efforts of the Unite Union to protect the aerospace industry and to unlock additional support to ensure its future.

Representing over 60,000 aviation workers, Unite Union has developed a blueprint to allow the sector to continue to operate and  meet  new  demands  in  the  wake  of  Coronavirus  and the  transition to a  green economy.

There was cross party recognition from the East Ayrshire Executive Committee that the aerospace cluster at Prestwick plays a key role in the local economy, both as a source of direct employment for local residents, and also with vital links to a local supply chain. In recent years aerospace businesses based at Prestwick have employed some 4,000 people, many of whom are East Ayrshire residents.

The future growth of the aerospace sector features prominently in the Ayrshire Growth Deal proposals, as having the potential to benefit the wider business base and create significant indirect employment opportunities.  

However, the emergence of COVID19 has had a serious impact on aviation across the globe.

Companies are experiencing disruption in production and slowing demand. 70% of aircraft fleet have been grounded, workers were sent home, passengers stopped travelling and demand for new aircraft and spare parts has declined.

Executive Committee members include Councillors Douglas Reid, John McGhee, Tom Cook and Drew Filson.

Speaking on behalf of the Executive Committee, Councillor Douglas Reid explained: “We wholeheartedly and collectively support the actions of Unite Union in their efforts to protect the aerospace industry. 

“This is a sector of high skill, high quality jobs and we need to do all we can to retain those skills and those jobs for the future. We know that already some companies have announced redundancies and our Economic Development Team will seek to support individuals to find alternative employment opportunities. At the same time we will do all we can to encourage our political partners, regionally and nationally, to find ways of protecting the aerospace sector.”

Councillor John McGhee, Leader of East Ayrshire Labour Group, and himself a former aerospace employee, emphasised the importance of supporting this campaign.

He said: “The aerospace industry has a long standing legacy in Ayrshire, having employed generations of local families for many years, and it’s important that we do all we can to preserve opportunities for future generations too.  

“I’ll be joining my political colleagues in writing to both North and South Ayrshire Councils to seek collective PAN Ayrshire support for this campaign, especially in the context of the Ayrshire Growth Deal. We will write to both the UK and Scottish Governments seeking an extension to the current furlough scheme for those working within the aerospace industry and to look at any further support packages that could be available, and we will contact our local MPs and MSPs to seek their support for the campaign.”

The Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Group (ADS) which represents more than 1,100 UK businesses operating in these sectors is currently lobbying the UK Government for specific supports, while at a Scottish Government level, the Minister for  Business,  Fair  Work  and  Skills,  Mr  J  Hepburn  MSP  has  convened  an  Aerospace Recovery Group comprising representation from industry, trade bodies, trade unions and government agencies.