Fears merger could put Stevenage jobs at risk

Fears over job losses

Fears over job losses - Credit: Archant

JOBS at a company which employs more than 1,000 people could be at risk if a proposed merger is resurrected.

That is the fear sparked for people working at space company Astrium, on Gunnels Wood Road in Stevenage, following a £1 billion share sell-off.

Last year, a proposed merger between Astrium’s Franco-German parent company EADS and British Aerospace to create a single European aerospace giant were put on hold because of concerns about undue political influence of European governments through their shareholdings.

According to Herts Euro MP Richard Howitt, who addressed fellow members of the European Parliament at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, a £1 billion share sell-off in just four weeks by the Spanish and French government and by Germany’s Daimler is designed to resurrect the merger.

Mr Howitt has demanded specific assurance protecting jobs at the Stevenage site in any possible deal.

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“The good news for Stevenage is that British Aerospace does not compete in space technology, so a merger could strengthen the overall company’s position without threatening local jobs,” said Mr Howitt.

“Although there is only speculation at present, any merger is subject to European competition law.

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“As the Herts Euro MP, it is right for me to seek the same public guarantees for local jobs in Stevenage, which have already been discussed with the workforce in Germany.”

Ian Waddell, national aerospace officer for the Unite trade union, which represents the Stevenage workforce, said: “Unite has always called for jobs to be protected should BAE and EADS merge and that position is unchanged.

“If [the merger] was back on the table then we would call for UK jobs, including those at Astrium in Stevenage, to be protected as they are highly skilled roles of great value to the UK economy.”

A spokesman for Astrium said: “I don’t know where he’s [Richard Howitt] got this from. The merger was something that was proposed last year and it didn’t happen for various reasons.”

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