Further job cuts at Rolls-Royce plant as 140 more redundancies announced

A further 140 job cuts have been announced at the Barnoldswick Rolls-Royce site in Lancashire.

These are in addition to the 350 proposed job losses as a result of transferring fan blade work to Singapore, which has led to a series of strikes and industrial action by Unite the Union members at the plant.

However, in the latest restructuring announced by the company, it said it plans to consolidate the manufacture of aero-engine structures (SCAM) from Barnoldswick into ITP Aero, which will potentially impact around 140 roles.

This would leave a total of 520 staff remaining at the plant.

A company statement said: “While this will be hugely upsetting news for our colleagues in Barnoldswick, this does not mean we are closing our Barnoldswick site.

“Following our proposal in August to relocate part of our fan blade manufacturing, Barnoldswick will be the home of a product development and technical support centre for wide chord fan blades and continue to manufacture blades for a range of Defence and Civil Aerospace applications.”

Rolls-Royce said the COVID-19 global pandemic has severely impacted the whole commercial aviation industry and due to the significant reduction in global demand from airlines for its products and services, which is forecast to last several years, it must reduce its manufacturing capacity and cost base to protect its remaining workforce.

“The measures we have taken so far, while significant, are not enough to offset the continued reduction in workload across our facilities and as a result, today we are proposing to consolidate the manufacture of aero-engine structures into ITP Aero.

“ITP Aero, currently undergoing its own restructuring, offers a more cost competitive option than our existing structures facility in Barnoldswick. We are commencing consultation on a proposal to close the structures facility on the site.”

Chris Cholerton, president – civil aerospace, said: “I understand that the announcement will be hugely upsetting for our colleagues in Barnoldswick.

“This is a very difficult proposal to make, but we cannot afford to retain every Rolls-Royce factory that was supported by demand that has been dramatically reduced by the pandemic.

“No government support scheme can replace sustainable customer demand and no government can sign up to extending the sort of short-term measures we have been very grateful for, over multiple years.”

The announcement was part of a wider plan to consolidate operations, which includes job cuts among the company’s apprentice workforce.

Unite the Union described Rolls-Royce’s announcement as “choking the company’s future”, while the proposals to transfer or run down parts of the business is “selling the family silver”.

National officer, Rhys McCarthy, said: “Rolls-Royce’s timing of the latest round of job losses stinks, workers have been left fearing for their futures as Christmas approaches.

“This announcement amounts to a death by a thousand cuts will send a chill through Rolls-Royce’s workers and the entire supply chain.

“Choking the company’s future like this is clearly about pacifying the city and shareholders in the short term, while disregarding the hopes and concerns of workers and their families.

“Unite will be arguing that the decision to make apprentices redundant must be reversed, they are the future life blood of the company and their loss will affect the long-term success of Rolls-Royce.

“Plans to sell the Hucknall plant and transfer work from Barnoldswick and Inchinnan is selling the family silver, the work is crucial to Rolls-Royce and the skills of the workforce are unique.

“The blame for the latest job losses must also fall on the Government. Unlike other countries such as France and Germany, it has failed to provide specific support to the aerospace sector, which is resulting in job losses being far steeper in the UK than in other countries.

“Unite is calling on the Government to immediately step in to prevent these job losses and to ensure the future of the aerospace sector in the UK.

“Unite is fully prepared to enter into detailed negotiations with Rolls-Royce to fully consider all alternatives in order to preserve jobs and guarantee the future of all the company’s manufacturing plants.”

However, amid today’s announcement was a shaft of light for some staff at the plant.

The company confirmed that talks are taking place to save 169 jobs from the original 350 staff put at risk of redundancy.

They said there are proposals for these 169 roles to continue to work at the site’s product development and technical support centre for wide chord fan blades and continue to manufacture blades for a range of other Defence and Civil Aerospace applications.

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