City leaders pledge help for Rolls-Royce workers as union urges firm to diversify

Derby city leaders have vowed to do all they can to help Rolls-Royce workers who will lose their jobs as part of the firm’s cuts announced yesterday (3 June).

Derby City Council says it is already putting measures in place to help those who face redundancy from Rolls-Royce as unions warn that the UK faces losing its reputation as a centre of aerospace excellence.

A statement from the city council said: “We note the company’s confirmation that 8,000 roles will be lost globally in its Civil Aerospace business, which is headquartered in Derby.

“We further note its statement that 1,500 of those job losses are likely to come this year in the East Midlands.

“We will be holding further discussions with the company to understand more fully the local impacts and how, through our Economic Recovery Task Force, we can best support the organisation and local businesses in the wider supply chain.”

The task force will offer a range of assistance to staff facing redundancy, including help with securing new employment or launching new businesses.

Derby City Council leader Councillor Chris Poulter said: “The city of Derby is determined to do all it can to support Rolls-Royce workers, the company and its suppliers in these very challenging times.

“We have a proven track record of resilience and I’m confident that with a partnership approach we can help and support those people affected.”

Unite national officer for the aerospace sector, Rhys McCarthy, said: “Today’s announcement by Rolls-Royce is another warning sign that the UK is in serious danger of losing its leading position in aerospace, in addition to losing thousands of skilled jobs.

“Unite understands the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on the aviation and aerospace industries, with the likely scenario of a recovery to passenger demand for long-haul, wide-bodied jets, which Rolls Royce makes the engines for, not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024/2025.

“This is why Unite has negotiated with Rolls-Royce the opening of a voluntary severance scheme across the company to mitigate any potential future redundancies and buy sometime so that Rolls-Royce can develop the Plan B that our members and other stakeholders so desperately need.

“The company’s defence and power divisions provide some protection in the short-term from further sweeping job losses, but this company urgently needs to develop a diversification plan to fill the gap in its civil aerospace division. It also has to move to bring new technologies to the market, building on the huge assets and skills it has in the UK.

“The UK government also has a key role in supporting diversification for the aviation and aerospace industries. We need them to be bold with levels of state investment and support last seen in the post-war period.

“More widely, the UK needs to develop a survival and recovery strategy that includes an aircraft scrappage scheme so that more environmentally friendly aircraft, wings and engines that the UK produces can be brought into service by airlines.

“Other countries such as France are already following this path; if we fail to follow suit we will see our competitors overtake us and help drive their economies out of the pandemic-induced recession while we lag behind and never catch up.”

Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce’s share price rose sharply on the news of the job cuts. At the close of trading, shares were changing hands for 328.2p – up 9.25% over the day.