Battle for Barnoldswick

Rolls-Royce workers at historic Barnoldswick plant fight for their jobs - and an 80-year legacy of engineering excellence

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Workers at the historic Rolls-Royce factory in Barnoldswick, Lancashire are not only fighting to save their jobs – they’re fighting to defend their community and a proud legacy stretching back decades.  

The Rolls-Royce plant is the birth of the jet engine and has for the last 80 years been a site of engineering excellence. At its peak, the site employed 3,000 workers. Over the years, the number of workers dwindled, with 500 currently employed at the plant.

But Rolls-Royce announced plans in August to cut a further 350 jobs and halt all production of wide-cord fan blades, a major function of the site. Instead, this work will be shipped to Singapore.

The plant’s engineers are especially angry at this knee-jerk decision, considering they helped train workers in Singapore in 2009 and were promised that the site there would only be used to “handle extra demand”.

“They gave us the assurance that it was not a competitor, it was a sister site, and that any downturn in work would be shared equally. But that was absolute nonsense,” one former union rep told the Mirror.

“They have systematically decimated our side. They have failed to invest for donkey’s years.”

Unite regional officer for aerospace Ross Quinn explained why this was not only morally wrong but also strategically misguided for the business.

 “Locating fan blade production solely in Asia also makes no sense when the engines are assembled at Rolls-Royce’s main plant 80 miles (130 kilometers) away in Derby, central England,” he told Bloomberg.

Now, the Rolls-Royce workers are worried that cutting so many jobs and leaving the plant with only 150 workers risks the future of the site. If it were to close, this would spell doom for their beloved town of Barnoldswick.

These proud Rolls-Royce engineers are not about to give up without a fight, and now their union Unite is balloting them for strike action to put a stop to the proposed job cuts and outsourcing plans to Singapore – the ballot closes on Friday (October 16).

Unite has also released a powerful film about the history of the Barnoldswick factory and why the site means so much to so many people.

You can watch the film below:

You too can help these Rolls-Royce workers – you can sign our petition here. You can also email your MP – just scroll down and input your postcode in the form here. Urge your MP to put pressure on the government and Rolls-Royce to keep these high skilled jobs in the UK.

By Hajera Blagg

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