Defence giant axes dozens of jobs

General Dynamics, St Leonards. 8/5/13
General Dynamics, St Leonards. 8/5/13

DEFENCE manufacturing giant General Dynamics is to shed 185 jobs nationwide including more than a dozen at its site in St Leonards.

A source suggested that the company is looking to shed between a dozen and up to 50 jobs at the Castleham Industrial Estate site.

It is the latest employer to struggle in the current harsh economic climate.

Earlier this year Blockbuster and Jessops closed and Hastings Borough Council shed 40 posts in cutbacks. Comet at Ravenside also closed with several job losses.

The American-owned corporation has now moved to the compulsory redundancy stage after completing its voluntary redundancy period.

It was reported that a contract last year to develop armoured vehicles for the British Army would secure hundreds of jobs.

Some workers in St Leonards have recently been seconded to the company’s plant in Newport, south Wales.

The company is a leading contractor and complex systems integrator working in partnership with government, military and civil forces and private companies around the world.

Last month it unveiled a new chief operating officer Steve Rowbotham as “the company reorganised for future business growth.”

According to the company website, Mr Rowbotham’s appointment follows “company reorganisation which sees the business more closely aligned within the General Dynamics corporation for future growth in the United Kingdom and internationally.

“Further strengthening its commitment to the UK market and enhancing export opportunities from the UK to international markets,

General Dynamics will continue to have two primary lines of business here - a C4 business for military, public safety and security opportunities and a Land Vehicles business which is currently delivering the Specialist Vehicle programme to the UK Ministry of Defence.”

Company spokesman Andrew Boyle said:

“There is an ongoing programme across our 10 sites in the UK and we are now into the compulsory redundancy stage.

“We have had a reorganisation following the recent retirment of our MD and we’re aligning ourself more closely with out parent company in America.

“We are reorganising to suit our business needs at this moment in time.”

One former worker who took voluntary redundancy told The Observer: “I’m not surprised the cutbacks have kicked in.

“I think it’s the type of work that they are doing.

“They are moving away from smaller defence projects to larger projects and probably don’t need as many staff.

“Staff do swap between sites and we have had Welsh workers coming down here for periods while our staff go over to Newport.

“Are they now going to look for a different type of engineer or people with different skills.

“There is plenty of work out there. I managed to get another job okay.”

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