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Unease over huge shipyard bonuses
MULTI-MILLION-pound bonuses for bosses of a Hampshire shipyard will cause serious unrest among workers, it was claimed last night.
The future of the BAE Systems shipyard in Portsmouth is under threat as part of an ongoing review of operations at the defence giant, which has just been dealt a blow with the failure to land a lucrative contract to sell fighter jets to India.
Despite axing 3,000 jobs across the country last year, the company’s three top executives are set to cash in after the group was given a near-£200m tax rebate that will boost its earnings to share.
Although the final pay packets have yet to be announced, massive windfalls for those at the top of the company, including chief executive Ian King, will anger hard-pressed staff in Hampshire who are facing the prospect of losing their jobs, unions said.
The firm, which is Britain’s biggest manufacturer, employs 1,500 people at its yard in Portsmouth dockyard, including hundreds of Southampton-based workers who were previously based at the Vosper Thorneycroft plant in Woolston.
Geoff Collins, a Unite union shop steward at the yard, told the Daily Echo: “People aren’t going to be happy.
“There’s already unrest down there. It’s not a happy place.
“Most of the labour force is from Southampton because they were all at Woolston.
“The core workforce is struggling. It’s not nice to then hear about things like this.”
Among the work carried out by staff at BAE include buildingparts of the Royal Navy’s new generation of Type 45 destroyers like HMS Dauntless, currently deployed in the Falklands.
The review into BAE’s shipbuilding operations is expected to see the Portsmouth site close – a move that could cost taxpayers £600m because a contract signed by the Ministry of Defence in 2009 guaranteed the company work for the next 15 years, meaning it will shoulder the cost of any yard closures.
Mr King, who took home a total of £2.4m last year, including a bonus of £1.4m, could earn between 30 per cent and 60 per cent of his base salary in an annual bonus through increased earnings per share as a result of the tax rebate.
BAE Systems, which cut more than 15,000 jobs in the two years before last September’s announcement of UK redundancies and the end of production at its factory in Brough, Yorkshire, is this week expected to report a ten per cent fall in underlying profits for 2011 to £2 billion, in the face of squeezed defence spending in Britain and America.