Airbus Management write letter to all UK staff warning of Brexit dangers – scaremongering say UKIP
Deeside’s largest employer Airbus has sent a letter to its UK workforce warning on the consequences of Britain exiting the EU.
The letter signed by the companies UK senior management team tells staff that a vote to leave the EU ‘could’ stifle future investment in the UK.
Airbus has been pretty clear for months on its position in terms of the EU and it’s UK factories, they will continue to operate as normal if the referendum vote goes in favour of an EU withdrawal.
The seven senior executives who signed the letter say risks of barriers being put up between its UK operations and those in France, have led it to oppose so-called ‘Brexit’
With $1 trillion worth of commercial jets on the order books Airbus is arguably one of Europe’s great success stories however, Tom Williams, the company’s chief operating officer and Paul Kahn, the president of Airbus Group UK say the company’s business model is entirely based on their ability to move products, people and ideas around Europe without any restriction and feel competitiveness of the British-based operations will decrease.
Airbus’ position is not new, last May Mr Khan speaking at a CBI ‘Wales in London’ event ahead of the general election said;
“If Britain were to leave the EU, would we suddenly close our factory in Broughton? No. With the barriers to entry that exist and the need for people with skill, passion and commitment, demanded by this type of advanced manufacturing, it would be impossible for us to start making our winds somewhere else for a number of years.”
It’s also worth noting Airbus recently opened an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama to go along with the final assembly line in China and operates subsidiaries in Japan and India.
This issue of Airbus and the EU has been a hot topic for local political party activists in the past 18 months, a UKIP parlimentary candidate accused Labour of spreading rumour and fear in the Broughton and Saltney area by telling voters Airbus would leave the country if Britain quit the EU following a referendum.
UKIP reacted angrily to Monday’s Airbus letter, a spokesperson said:
“We are deeply disappointed by this cynical and self-serving move by Airbus which arrogantly places their profit margins at the centre of the debate instead of the real interests of its employees and the people of Wales.
“We disagree fully with the assertions that Airbus has chosen to share with its staff, and would remind everyone that leaving the EU is much more than simply accommodating the interests of big business alone.
The UKIP spokesperson continued:
“We don’t think it’s right for big business to try to influence the referendum by scaremongering among employees and believe that responsible employers would acknowledge that the referendum debate is about far more than their profit margins, but the future of the country as a whole for generations to come.
Britain’s largest union, Unite gave its backing to the Airbus letter, Unite which has over 450,000 members in manufacturing and is calling on its 1.4 million members to back ‘remain’, said Airbus UK is right to highlight the likely risks and complications that a ‘leave’ vote would create to the aircraft maker’s business model and ‘modus operandi’.
Tony Burke, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing, said:
“Representing over 450,000 manufacturing workers Unite understands only too well the dangers that would be associated with a vote to leave the European Union and its potential to put future investment decisions in serious doubt.
“Unite also recognises that UK workers derive significant benefits from European social and employment legislation that would immediately be lost if we voted to leave the EU. These include rights many of us take for granted, such as four weeks paid leave at average pay, parental leave, part-time and temporary/agency worker protections, regulation of working hours, as well as anti-discrimination legislation and many others.
Another Deeside based company Toyota UK, has warned competitiveness is at risk if Britain leaves EU
Tony Walker, deputy managing director of Toyota UK operations, said Brexit ‘could’ reduce the competitiveness of its factory in Deeside and Derby creating an uncertain future.
Walker said Toyota remained fully committed to its UK business and existing investment decisions. However, he raised the prospect of significant cuts at Toyota in the UK once the programme of investments planned for the next two to three years are over.
The Airbus letter says:
The Prime Minister has called a June referendum on the future of the UK in Europe – BREXIT as it has
become known – do we stay in the European Union or do we leave?
Airbus Group has come out strongly in favour of the UK staying in the EU. As a successful international
company with a strong European heritage we are proud that much of the world flies on British-built wings.
We are proud to be the biggest commercial aerospace company in the UK; Britain’s leading space and
satellite company; the biggest supplier of large aircraft to the RAF; a bastion of our nation’s cyber defence;
Britain’s civil helicopter hub; a massive investor in R&D and a leading employer of highly qualified
technicians, engineers and scientists.
Why do we mention all these achievements? Because Airbus Group’s success in the UK is predicated on a
highly competitive, integrated European business model. Our position, which probably does not come as a
great surprise to you, is we firmly believe that it makes good economic sense to stay inside the EU which has
helped make the company the global success story it is today. Apart from anything else, we simply don’t
know what ‘out’ looks like.
As has been stressed publicly by our top management, this is an entirely UK issue – it is up to the British
people to debate and make up their own minds as to whether or not they wish to stay in the EU. However it
is also reasonable for us as a responsible UK leadership team to explain to you why we think it is important
for us to stay.
Should the British electorate have a different view then clearly we wouldn’t cease our activities in the UK,
which are highly important and very prominent. However, our business model is entirely based on our
ability to move products, people and ideas around Europe without any restriction and we do not believe
leaving will increase the competitiveness of our British based operations. We all need to keep in the back of
our minds that future investments depend very much on the economic environment in which the company
In fact we believe that the UK remaining active in reforming the EU can improve our position, and as a
commercial business that operates in a globally competitive environment we need to maintain every
competitive advantage in the UK we have.
Whilst we hope the UK will choose to retain its EU membership, the final important point to make is that
Airbus Group remains fully committed to its operations in the UK and to its employees here.
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