Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick in Lancashire will be hit with a second and third wave of targeted strikes over plans to offshore the production of Trent jet engine blades to Singapore with the loss of 350 jobs, Unite said today (November 16).
The daily strikes will now continue until December 24 as the company prepares to meet with ministers and cross-party MPs this week to discuss the plans to end blade production at the factory, which Rolls-Royce has owned since 1943. The strike action originally started on November 6.
Finishing inspectors, machinists, electricians and instrumentation workers will stage a series of November and December walk outs over the proposals, which would have a devastating impact on the local economy and could potentially sound the ‘death knell’ for Rolls-Royce’s operations in the town.
Unite has consistently made clear that Rolls-Royce could avoid industrial action by either cancelling its plans to offshore the work to Singapore or by ensuring the viability of Barnoldswick by introducing similar work and guaranteeing comparable employment levels. The company has failed to do this, so far.
The striking workers have seen an outpouring of support in Barnoldswick, where Rolls-Royce is the biggest employer. Local politicians and both Labour and Tory MPs have also condemned Rolls-Royce’s plans. The company has been particularly criticised for using taxpayer funds to cushion against the pandemic’s economic impacts, even as it pushes through plans to offshore crucial UK manufacturing jobs.
Unite, as well as supportive MPs, have been lobbying the government to make any further support for Rolls-Royce conditional on the jobs remaining in the UK.
Unite regional officer Ross Quinn said, “Rolls-Royce is behaving appallingly and should hang its head in shame. These highly skilled jobs are more crucial than ever and for them to be shipped abroad will be devastating for the 350 workers and their families, Barnoldswick and the UK’s manufacturing base as a whole. To do so while taking government handouts meant to sustain the nation’s economy through the pandemic is beyond the pale.
“The striking workers have the full support of their community and will not rest until Rolls-Royce reverses these profoundly damaging plans, which, if enacted, will sound the death knell for nearly eight decades of Rolls-Royce manufacturing in Barnoldswick,” he added.
“This week, the company will be meeting with ministers and MPs to discuss the proposals. Given the criticism of Rolls-Royce’s actions from across the political divide, Unite is in no doubt that the company’s leadership will be urged to reconsider its plans by MPs in attendance. If Rolls-Royce refuses, the government must make any further support conditional on the jobs staying in Barnoldswick.”
By Ryan Fletcher