Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 39, October 31, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Workers' Forum

Rolls Royce Workers Announce Three-Week Strike
in Defence of Job Security and a Viable Economy

Workers at the historic Rolls-Royce factory at Barnoldswick in Lancashire have overwhelmingly voted for industrial action in a battle to preserve a well-known jet engine factory. In August, Rolls-Royce announced that it was intent on offshoring the production of its Trent Engine blades, which are made at the site, to a plant in Singapore, with the loss of 350 local jobs.

Workers, who are members of Unite, recorded a 94 per cent yes vote in favour of industrial action. The union set Rolls-Royce a 96-hour deadline to withdraw its plans to off-shore blade production to Singapore or confirm that comparable alternative work requiring a similar number of workers would be transferred to the plant.

Unite delayed issuing strike dates to give Rolls-Royce a final chance to alter its plans by cancelling its offshoring proposals or by ensuring that Barnoldswick remains viable by introducing similar work and employment levels, to settle the dispute over compulsory redundancies, but with no such commitments forthcoming strike action has been called.

The targeted strike action will begin at 6.30am on November 6 and end at 7pm on November 27.

Since Rolls-Royce's announcement that it was intent on offshoring the work there has been a huge outpouring of opposition in Barnoldswick with the local community uniting to oppose the offshoring and the threat to the factory, which has been vital to the town's economic wellbeing since World War Two.

The announcement of the industrial action comes at a time when Rolls-Royce is seeking £5 billion worth of investment in the form of a £2 billion rights issues, £2 billion worth of bonds and support from the government to the tune of £1 billion.

Unite regional officer Ross Quinn said: "Unite has given Rolls-Royce every opportunity to change its plans, confirm there will be no more compulsory redundancies and guarantee the long-term future of Barnoldswick, but it has refused to do so. To offshore work and destroy the viability of this historic factory would be nothing short of industrial vandalism. As a consequence and as a last resort, Unite has instructed its members to take targeted strike action in order to bring Rolls-Royce to the negotiating table."

Ross Quinn added: "Barnoldswick is the cradle of the jet engine and the workforce and the local community will not allow Rolls-Royce to destroy the viability of the site without a huge fight."

Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said: "It is simply unacceptable that Rolls-Royce is seeking to offshore the jobs of workers in the UK, while at the same time that it is going cap in hand to the UK government for £1 billion in financial support. There is still time before strike action begins for Rolls-Royce to reverse the decision to offshore jobs, or present alternative plans to ensure the Barnoldswick factory's long term future at similar employment levels. It is hoped it uses the next two weeks wisely. If Rolls-Royce is prepared to propose a viable future for Barnoldswick, then Unite will meet them at any time to resolve this dispute and secure a deal to preserve the jobs and the future of the factory."

(Union News)


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