More Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick strikes announced

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.

Trade union Unite said 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, the union claims.

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 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 union says.

The company has been 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.”

A Rolls-Royce spokesperson said: “We are disappointed to receive notice of additional strike action in Barnoldswick and remain committed to meaningful consultation with employee representatives and trade unions on the future of the site, which we are not planning to close.

“While we are proposing that some work will no longer take place at the site, we are also proposing that our people in Barnoldswick will play an important role in developing fan blades for our next-generation jet engines, keeping the UK at the cutting-edge of aerospace technology.

“We ask them to continue working with us as we deal with the impact of the pandemic on our business.”

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