Future of Lancashire Rolls-Royce plant finally secured after long campaign

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The long-running campaign to secure the future of the historic Rolls-Royce factory of Barnoldswick in Lancashire has finally ended.

Following a ballot the workers at the factory, who are members of trade union Unite, have accepted an enhanced agreement, extending protections previously secured in 2020, including a commitment that there will be no compulsory redundancies for five years and manufacturing will be undertaken on the site for at least 10 years.

Unite said this is a substantial achievement given that the future of the plant, which is the cradle of the jet engine, was left hanging in the balance in early 2020 when Rolls-Royce announced it intended to remove much of the work from the factory and transfer it to Singapore.

Following that announcement there was a period of protracted strike action at the factory that led to an agreement and guarantees that the workforce subsequently believed was not being honoured.

Further selective strike action this summer led to today’s (November 12) enhanced protections and further commitments for the long term future of the site.

Unite assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, said: “This is a tremendous achievement for the workers at Barnoldswick who have stood solidly in support of one another and their community in the fight for a long term future and cast iron guarantees for their plant.

“Through the leadership of their shop stewards and local Unite officer, a confident, well organised workforce have once again demonstrated their willingness to act collectively and win. This dispute should act as an inspiration to all facing similar challenges as we transition to a greener economy.”

He added: “From the very outset of this dispute, Unite has always fundamentally believed that Barnoldswick could and should have a viable long term future and the deal reached between the union and the management at Rolls-Royce has secured that aim.”

A notable factor in Unite’s successful campaign was the strong support the workers received from the entire local community, as there was a clear understanding that Rolls-Royce’s continued presence was essential for the town’s continued prosperity.

Unite regional officer, Ross Quinn, said: “This has been a long and complex campaign but the commitment, determination and passion of our union on-site has secured this fantastic result for the whole community

“Unite is looking forward to working closely with Rolls-Royce to ensure that the deal that has been agreed is fully implemented and to ensure that the Barnoldswick factory has a bright and long-term future.”

A Rolls-Royce spokesperson said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Unite that allows us to focus on the future of Barnoldswick.

“Rolls-Royce, like the entire aviation industry, is facing an unprecedented impact from the COVID-19 pandemic and we have had to restructure to address the resulting drop in workload.

“Both the company and the trade union have had to work hard to reach this agreement and we now look forward to working with Unite to ensure Barnoldswick can move forward with certainty.”