Three weeks of strike action announced at Rolls-Royce Lancashire factory

Workers at the historic Rolls-Royce factory at Barnoldswick, Lancashire will begin three weeks of targeted strike action next month as part of a campaign led by Unite the union to preserve the viability of the factory.

In August, Rolls-Royce announced it would offshore production of its Trent Engine blades, which are made at Barnoldswick, to a factory in Singapore, with the loss of 350 jobs.

Unite said it believes this would make the factory, which Rolls-Royce has owned since 1943 and is the cradle of the jet engine, potentially unviable.

Earlier this month, members of Unite returned a 94% ‘yes’ vote in favour of industrial action.

Unite said it 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, it said, with no such commitments forthcoming strike action has been called.

The targeted strike action will begin on Friday November 6, and end on Friday, November 27.

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.

“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: “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.”

A spokesperson for Rolls-Royce said: “We are disappointed to receive notice of industrial action at our Barnoldswick site and remain committed to meaningful consultation with employee representatives and trade unions on the future of the facility.

“Although we are proposing that some work will no longer take place at the site, we have no plans to close it.

“Our people in Barnoldswick will play an important role in developing fan blades for our future jet engines, keeping the UK at the cutting-edge of aerospace technology.

“We ask them to work with us, not against us as we deal with the impact of the pandemic on our business.”