Rolls-Royce workers ponder peace deal which could save 350 jobs

A peace deal is within reach of workers at the Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick factory in Lancashire.

Staff have staged a series of strikes over plans by the company to offshore some of their work to Singapore, with the loss of 350 jobs.

But eight weeks of strike action has been suspended today (January 8) for members of Unite the Union to consider a landmark deal that would save the 350 jobs and give the site, home of the Lancaster bomber, a bright future.

The proposals have the unanimous backing of the plant committee, the shop stewards and convenors.

If agreed, it will give the site, which has sat at the heart of the community for 80 years, a new lease of life as the company’s centre of training and excellence and cement Rolls-Royce as a key player in green and emerging technologies.

The workforce will meet next week to decide on the deal.

Announcing the suspension of the strike, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing, Steve Turner, who led the team that negotiated the agreement, said: “This workforce, their union and this community have battled long and hard for a brighter future and there is now very real hope of this on the horizon.

“For many of our members, this breakthrough will be an emotional time as the security that they can continue to provide for their families inches closer.

“We are suspending the strike action which has been under way at the site for eight weeks so that our members can look at the detail of the proposals and come to a decision when they meet next week.

“We are advising our members that this deal comes with the unanimous backing of the shop floor leadership, which is an overwhelming reflection of this union’s confidence in the proposals.

“Every minute of the past nine weeks, this workforce, their friends and neighbours and their union have battled for a brighter future.

“The determination and courage that they have shown, even in the bleakest of moments, has been inspiring and I am hugely proud to represent these workers and play our part in giving this community a future.”

He added: “We look forward to resuming discussions with the members at the earliest possibility as we continue the work of securing a great future for this site so that it can continue to play its part in the successful rebuilding of UK manufacturing.”

The workforce began targeted strike action on November 6, last year which ran until Christmas Eve.

Workers then returned to the picket lines at the start of 2021. In total, the workforce has undertaken eight weeks of strike action.

A Rolls-Royce spokesperson said: “We are pleased to confirm that after many weeks of complex and constructive talks with Unite, they have today agreed to suspend the industrial action at our site in Barnoldswick while we finalise an agreement that demonstrates our commitment to the long-term future of the site.”