The article, to which Aaron Bastani links in his tweet (above), makes interesting reading – although it is a bit long-winded.
It proposes a future for the company in which it won’t have to cut jobs, but may devote them away from building weapons and into peacetime technological pursuits. For the UK’s biggest exporter, it seems this is far preferable than the collapse and ruin presaged by the announcement of 2,000 job losses today (October 10).
The Tory government will do nothing, of course. Tories no longer understand industry, if they ever did. Their industrial strategy, from the mid-1970s onwards, has been to destroy industry in order to impoverish working people and undermine the trade unions.
Here’s the relevant part of the Open Democracy article:
BAE Systems should be taken into public ownership, with tens of thousands of engineers and fixed capital re-directed towards renewable energy industries, automated civilian avionics and vehicles, space transport and climate change solutions – specifically around flooding and desertification.
Right now BAE has 33,000 employees across the UK, 70% of which are engineers or work in engineering-related areas. That is an immense amount of talent that is currently deployed to, among other things, build weapon systems to be used against civilian targets in one of the poorest countries in the world. As well as Saudi Arabia, other BAE clients include the UAE, where the company sells surveillance systems and, potentially Qatar, which is still looking to buy Typhoons despite recently purchasing a large number of French Rafales.
Rather than create weapons for some of the most authoritarian regimes in the world, while also depending on British defence budgets only set to shrink and the renewal of a nuclear deterrent ill-suited to the modern world, the resources and skills of BAE Systems, especially given its comparative edge in avionics, vehicles and energy architecture, would be instead be deployed in fields of importance to Britain and the wider world. New flooding solutions, crucial as Britain adapts to climate change, would not just be for the domestic market but for export too. The same is true for dealing with desertification, a major issue not only for North America, the Middle East and Africa, but Europe and Australia.
Then there are the fields of renewable energy, automated transport, AI and robotics.
Contrast this with the bleak news of the company’s announcement today:
Britain’s biggest defence contractor, BAE Systems, is to cut nearly 2,000 jobs in a significant blow to the UK’s manufacturing sector and the government’s industrial strategy.
The company, which makes the Eurofighter Typhoon jet and Britain’s nuclear submarines, said on Tuesday that up to 1,400 jobs would go at its military aerospace business over the next three years, along with a further 375 in maritime services and 150 at its cyber-intelligence business.
BAE aims to achieve the cuts, which are due to be implemented by 1 January, through voluntary redundancies where possible. It employs 83,100 people worldwide, including 34,600 in the UK.
There is a way forward.
If these job cuts go ahead, then you will know that they are happening because BAe – and the Conservative government – have ignored the opportunity to open the company up to new markets. For the Tories, that would be an unforgivable crime.
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