CITY JOBS CUTS 'UNAVOIDABLE'.
UNION leaders have branded the decision to axe almost 100 workers at Coventry's NP Aerospace as disappointing.
But they say cuts to defence spending have made the decision unvoidable - as lucrative MoD contracts continued to dry up at the local manufacturing firm.
According to the regional organiser of Unite the union, Alan Lewis, NP Aerospace bosses had been desperately trying to avoid making job losses for some time.
Mr Lewis says the Foleshill Road firm, which makes body armour and combat vehicles for the British Army, had 'tried to carry on' - despite a loss of orders.
However, last month bosses had to review the business and make a 'difficult' decision to cut its workforce - as there was 'no work on the horizon'.
"Obviously we do not want jobs to go, but you cannot produce work that isn't there," said Mr Lewis. "The company has expanded quite significantly over the years due to defence spending in Afghanistan and Iraq and as a result the company has been highlighted as a very good company.
"I think they have always been a very good company, but if they have not got any work they cannot continue to employ so many people.
"They have tried to carry on as long as they can in the hope that other orders would come in, but that has not happened and they have had to sit down and look at the business as a whole to keep it going."
Union leaders will be meeting with staff on Friday as part of the consultation process, and say the first redundancies could come into effect immediately.
The total number of job losses is close to 100 - with 82 permanent workers affected and 14 agency staff already axed.
"We are heavily involved in the consultation process," added Mr Lewis. "We were told from the beginning that the redundancies are due to contracts coming to an end and there being no further contracts on the horizon.
"We have agreed a selection criteria and the redundancies are immediate with the last by May 31."
Just a few years ago, the company was celebrating numerous successes including an pounds 84 million contract win with the Ministry of Defence to supply the Wolfhound tactical support vehicles.
The company has also been instrumental in building the Mastiff and Ridgback, which were used by the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. The firm also makes personal body armour, suits and protective kits for a wide range of vehicles.