Rolls-Royce job losses are major blow to Coventry say business leaders

THE loss of almost 400 jobs to Coventry’s economy following the decision by Rolls-Royce to make cutbacks at its Ansty operation are a significant blow to the area, business leaders have said.

Rolls-Royce has said it plans to axe 378 jobs from the Ansty operation and union leaders have said the decision is a direct result of defence cutbacks by the Government.

Unite said the job losses now cast serious doubt over the future of the Ansty plant, which employs around 800 people. The union said with such significant job losses now there was a real question mark over the future viability of the site, especially with fresh defence cuts still possible.

Rolls-Royce is understood to be in consultation with workers and is hopeful of avoiding compulsory redundancies.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is grim news and, of course, our immediate thoughts are with those people who face the prospect of redundancy.

“Rolls Royce has, in recent years, changed its operation in Coventry and Warwickshire with many staff now based at its expanding Warwick site but, none-the-less, this news is still a blow to our regional economy.”

She said that in the past, when significant job losses have been announced at key employers in the region, strategic partners across Coventry and Warwickshire had come together to try to mitigate the impact on the economy.

“Once again, we will be in touch with partners to look at ways we can assist as we have done in this kind of instance in the past,” she added.

Martin Yardley, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership said: “This is obviously bad news for the 378 people affected at Rolls Royce at Ansty as well as it being a blow to our sub-region.

“The company has had a presence in the area for many years and has been a cornerstone of our strength in engineering and manufacturing.

“Rolls Royce has invested elsewhere in Coventry and Warwickshire but this underlines how important our continued and increased efforts are to strengthen the manufacturing and engineering capability of our area.”

Ian Waddell, national officer for aerospace and shipbuilding at the Unite union, said Government defence cutbacks including the scrapping of the Harrier jump jet were thought to be the main reason behind Rolls-Royce’s decision.

“The blame for the loss of these highly skilled jobs in the key defence sector lies with the government and its short-sighted determination to ram through massive spending cuts in the defence budget,” he said.

“Once again, Unite calls for a coherent defence industrial strategy to be drawn up as matter of urgency to safeguard jobs and a defence industry at which Britain excels. This is vital – otherwise more high-skilled jobs will be lost, perhaps forever.

“There is a very long timescale for consultation and implementation, so we hope that compulsory redundancies will be avoided. However, the underlying reason for the job losses is the government’s defence spending cuts announced a couple of years ago.”

The job losses are a further blow to the city’s industry, which is still reeling from the collapse of black cab manufacturer London Taxi International – part of Manganese Bronze Holdings – last year.