JOB losses at Broughton will be the biggest blow to Flintshire workers since the closure of Shotton steelworks in the 1980.

That is the view of those living in the community that for years has seen the Airbus plant employ people from almost every family and create opportunities for smaller businesses and traders.

In 1980, overnight, Shotton steelworks inflicted the biggest industrial redundancy on a single day in Western Europe.

Now, with the aerospace industry grinding to a halt as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Airbus is looking to shed 15,000 jobs globally with Broughton and Chilton expected to take the brunt of 1,700 job losses in the UK.

Cabinet Member for Economic Development and former Airbus worker, Cllr Derek Butler knows how important Airbus is to Broughton and Flintshire as a whole.

Describing the potential job losses as "unprecedented in recent times", Cllr Butler said there was a danger of tsunami effect that would impact smaller companies in the area and the region's skill base.

He said: "It's devastating.

"The aerospace industry is cyclical business and every half a generation as it were has big peaks and troughs, but this devastating to a quarter of the workforce at the Broughton factory.

"Given the times we're living in, it's not really difficult to understand the reason why. I think there's 15,000 from Airbus globally going.

"It is a body blow."

Cllr Butler said that apprenticeships would not be affected, meaning that skills would be retained in North Wales for when the aerospace industry picks up in the future.

He added: "It's good in a sense that the company at Airbus has recognised the skills of Broughton and the need for the retention of skills. The apprenticeship schemes and apprentices will be retained, guaranteeing that, when there is a turnaround, we've got the capacity to go forward."

He added that he hoped the need for compulsory redundancies would be limited, but that work was being done to secure retraining opportunities as well as looking at funding to bolster smaller businesses that feed Airbus.

Cllr Butler said: "We don't know the full numbers but my understanding, from conversations with Airbus, is that the profile of the workforce is elderly in some respects and that they are hoping there will be the opportunity for early retirement and voluntary redundancies.

"There are no guarantees there won't be compulsory redundancies but they're hoping that the packages, which I believe through conversations with the unions, are likely to be fairly generous.

"My team at Economic Development at the county council are working with job centres and other agencies so we can look at opportunities people might want for retraining.

"I'm making representations to the Welsh Government and the national government, in conjunction with our colleagues cross border, The Mersey Dee Alliance and the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, to put some pressure on the national government in particular about the retention of these skills.

"There are various schemes being out forward, similar to Germany, that I believe might help in that retention."

He said that as well as support for Airbus, other companies, such as Metal Improvement Company (MIC) in Broughton and Magellan Aerospace in Llay, needed help.

Cllr Butler added: "What happens is, as what happened with the steelworks, there is wave supply chain behind this. Again we are making representations because they as well hold skills that are vital and the government needs to be responsive to the needs in that sector.

"In this area there are quite a few supply companies to Airbus that will also be affected, so the knock on effect, as we know from the closure of the steelworks 30 years ago, can blight society.

"We all need to be on our guard and any of these post-Covid funds that our out there, we need to be tapping into."

Cllr Ros Griffiths said that job losses at Airbus would have an impact on almost every family in the community.

She said: "It is going to have an impact on other local businesses. It is a very strange world that we are living in at the moment, people are not flying, planes are not being bought. It's a very, very sad situation but, unfortunately, probably a predictable one with the way things have been going, which is dreadful."

"Its very important to the community as a local employer. Having read the at the headlines, hopefully all of those jobs will not be going at Broughton.

"It awful for the families that have that as their income, and how things are going to pan out for them. It's a very sad and worrying time for the families.

"My husband used to work at Airbus, and you do realise the impact it's going to have on families. I feel for them.

"It used to be known as the family firm because, particularly here in Broughton, virtually every family had somebody working at Airbus. It isn't as much the case now, people travel quite a long distance, Manchester etc, to get to Airbus to work every day. But the impact on families is going to be horrendous.

"It's a terrible situation we're in, and I feel sorry for the company having to make that decision as I do for the people whose lives its going to affect."

County Councillor for South Ward Broughton and Bretton Community Council, Mike Lowe is a former Airbus worker.

He said: "I worked at Airbus for 25 years so it's really sad news. I'm sure that once the economy starts starts picking up then Airbus will pick up as well, but that doesn't help the people that are going to lose their jobs.

"Its like any business that has a local economy around them, it's going to affect everywhere."