Unions estimate more than 500 BAE workers took part in a noisy mass lobby of shareholders on Wednesday over plans to close down their East Yorkshire aircraft production plant, with the loss of almost 900 jobs.
(Unite, GMB and CSEU members protest opposite BAE Systems AGM, Westminster. Image ©Guy Smallman)
Trade union reps and ordinary BAE workers were refused entry to the AGM in central London to put questions to the company’s chief executive, Ian King, despite holding shares themselves.
Unite rep at the Brough plant, Ian Gent, told UnionNews: “As shareholders, this was our AGM too and the company didn’t let us in.
“The fact is, they were scared of us, because this was an absolutely brilliant response from the members.
“They were chanting and blowing vuvuzelas and air horns outside the AGM constantly for more than an hour.
“The only reason we stopped was when we heard that Ian King and [BAE chairman] Dick Oliver had sneaked out through the back door to avoid having to talk to us.”
Local MPs David Davis and Alan Johnson met protesters as they arrived from East Yorkshire in a convoy of coaches and joined the BAE workers for the lobby, at the QE2 Conference Centre in Westminster.
BAE Systems plans to end the manufacture of Hawk training jets in Brough in 2013, with the loss of 845 jobs.
The site has been building aircraft since 1916.
Unite has been calling on BAE to create a foundation to help the sacked workers find new jobs and for Ian King to donate his £1.44m bonus towards the support fund.
The company last week informed MPs that it would not impose any compulsory redundancies at the East Yorkshire site this year.
However, Ian Gent said: “There has been no formal proposal to the unions or the workforce yet.
“We need to see these promises in writing, including any money the company is offering for re-training and any proposals they have for keeping some work in Brough.
“What they’ve offered so far just isn’t enough – not by a country mile. So, if needs be, we’ll be back again. We’re not going away.”