Workforce agrees Rolls-Royce resolution to save 350 Lancashire jobs

Workers at the Barnoldswick Rolls-Royce factory have agreed to a deal which will save 350 jobs and guarantee its future.

The company announced plans last year to off-shore jobs at the Lancashire factory to a Singapore operation, leading to the potential redundancies.

Workers, including members of Unite the Union, undertook a series of strikes and following recent negotiations with employers have now “overwhelmingly” backed a peace deal between the two sides.

The deal will give the historic site a new lease of life as a core manufacturing facility and host to a new ‘centre of excellence’, training tomorrow’s engineers to meet the challenges of the climate emergency.

Union leaders believe the agreement provides the factory – home of the World War Two Lancaster bomber and birthplace of the Frank Whittle jet engine – with the opportunity to retain advanced manufacturing for decades to come and position itself within Rolls-Royce as a leading player in the development and manufacture of the products and technologies needed to combat climate change.

The main details of the deal are:

  • A 10-year manufacturing guarantee for the site
  • A guaranteed minimum headcount of 350 workers
  • The creation of a ‘centre of excellence’ training school supporting the development and manufacturer of zero carbon technologies and advanced manufacturing excellence
  • A guarantee of a two-year no compulsory redundancy agreement to facilitate discussions on a plan to develop advanced manufacturing work, supporting carbon-free energy generation, along with synthetic fuels and green technologies

Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing, Steve Turner, who led the team that negotiated the agreement, said: “Today is a day for celebration at the Barnoldswick plant and their community. They demonstrated real solidarity in the face of a genuine threat, stood together and have won a future. True local heroes who have inspired a generation.

“This plant has a great history, but it now has a bright future thanks to the courage and determination of these workers and the support of their friends and neighbours.

“It can look forward to celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2023, safe in the knowledge that it will play a leading role in Rolls-Royce as it repositions itself to be a key player in green manufacturing.”

He added: “I’d like to recognise the role of Rolls-Royce CEO, Warren East, who was prepared to listen to a clear alternative business case for this highly-skilled, dedicated workforce.”

Ross Quinn, the Unite regional officer with responsibility for Barnoldswick, said: “People are very emotional as this means so much to the town of Barnoldswick. This site is at the heart of the local economy, but we also draw so much pride from its history. To lose it would have destroyed this town, so it will be a huge relief to people and businesses right across the community and in the wider supply chain that this awful dark cloud on the near horizon will disappear.

“Unite is now looking forward to working with Rolls-Royce to ensure that the agreement is a complete success. This workforce will be keen to put their shoulder to the wheel now, to get back to work and make sure the site has the bright future it deserves.”

As part of the campaign to save the factory, the workforce undertook nine weeks of strike action.

A Rolls-Royce spokesperson said: “We are pleased to confirm that after many weeks of complex and constructive talks about the future of our facility in Barnoldswick we have agreed a way forward with Unite.

“This includes a commitment to the long-term future of the site, delivering on our pledge not to close Barnoldswick, and the development of a training programme on the site to address the changing requirements for skilled engineering capability across the group and associated supply chain.

“This will include programmes designed to help meet the challenge of climate change.”