Jobs at risk at B/E Aerospace site in Leighton Buzzard

91 workers are at risk of losing their jobs at major Leighton Buzzard firm B/E Aerospace as company bosses are said to be considering options to transfer roles to its factory in the Phillipines.

Tuesday, 13th March 2018, 9:21 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th March 2018, 9:24 am
B/E Aerospace, Leighton Buzzard...Photo: Google

One worker at the Grovebury Road site, who does not wish to be named, told the LBO that the company – taken over by Rockwell Collins and later by United Technologies Corp – had told workers of its plans last Wednesday.

He said: “At this meeting, we were informed that due to business pressures, up to 91 people could be losing their jobs which is nearly half the work force on our side of the business.

“It sounds like most of the jobs are going to be done in the Philippines.”

B/E Aerospace has effectively been taken over twice by other companies within the past year.

It was bought in April 2017 for $6.4 billion by the aircraft connectivity provider Rockwell Collins, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Just as the Grovebury Road branch was preparing to change its graphic, Rockwell Collins was acquired by United Techologies in a £30bn deal that was agreed by shareholders in January.

The worker added: “B/E Aerospace purchased a large unit in the Philippines and this is now getting bigger and bigger.

“It was all one company at one time which made galleys and sockets and foot rests and seats. Then they split the company in half with the Philippines making galleys and seats.

“When we got taken over this last time, although they are two separate companies we’ve got the same high level bosses...

“The bosses have led a bit of charmed life at B/E Aerospace.”

Around 230 people work in the ‘seating aftermarket’ division in Grovebury Road.

One of the B/E Aerospace factories in Tuscon, Arizona, USA, has recently been closed down resulting in over 400 jobs lost after a change of contract with United Arab Emirates.

There were also a number of job cuts at B/E Aerospace unit in Leighton Buzzard following the 2008 financial crash, however it is understood that many of those were later rehired.

Back in June 2016, the town’s MP Andrew Selous visited the site alongside Euro MP Vicky Ford and heard how the EU and its single market helped the company’s trade and supported exports.

At the time MD Keith Delderfield explained that the long period of uncertainty following a vote to leave the EU and the fluctuation in exchange rates would hurt their business.

It was stated that B/E Aerospace exports over a third of its turnover to Europe and any negative impact on the ease of carrying out business within the EU would make B/E Aerospace review their current operating strategy.

Mr Selous said at the time: “We have 700 high skilled engineering jobs here in Leighton Buzzard that we are extremely proud of and I don’t want anything to happen that would make life more difficult for everyone who works here. B/E Aerospace have been very clear that their business will hugely benefit from the United Kingdom remaining within the European Union and will be harmed if the UK leaves”.

A Rockwell Collins spokeman said: “Rockwell Collins has begun discussions with its employees at its Leighton Buzzard, United Kingdom operations on proposed changes that could affect 91 aftermarket service positions.

“We are still in the decision-making process and will be entering into collective consultation with the workforce about the proposals prior to any decisions being made.”