Rolls-Royce workers based at the company’s historic factory in Barnoldswick Lancashire, the cradle of the jet engine, will begin three weeks of targeted strike action this Friday (6 November).

Fighting for a future

The workers, who are members of Unite the union, are fighting to preserve the long-term viability of the site, following the decision by Rolls-Royce to offshore the production of the manufacture of its Trent jet engine blades to a factory in Singapore, with the loss of 350 jobs.

Unite believes that this would make the factory, which Rolls-Royce has owned since 1943, potentially unviable. The proposed loss of jobs, let alone the total closure of the site, would have a devastating effect on Barnoldswick, where the company remains the principal employer in the town

Rolls-Royce failure

Unite has always made clear Rolls-Royce could avoid industrial action and settle the dispute over compulsory redundancies 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 company has failed to do so.

The targeted strike action will begin at 06:30 on Friday 6 November and end on Friday 27 November at 19:00. Unite will be maintaining a picket line with strict social distancing rules in place throughout the dispute.

Community support

Since Rolls-Royce's plans became public there has been a huge groundswell of support throughout the local community for Unite's campaign to maintain blade production at Barnoldswick, and opposition to the company’s offshoring proposals, which coincide with its efforts to secure £1 billion of financial support from the government.

Last resort to preserve viability

Unite regional officer Ross Quinn said: “Our members are taking industrial action as a last resort and have given Rolls-Royce every opportunity to alter its plans by ensuring the viability of Barnoldswick and confirming there will be no compulsory redundancies.

 “This dispute is not just about maintaining the viability of the Rolls-Royce factory in Barnoldswick, it is about the future prosperity of the local community.

 “Barnoldswick is the cradle of the jet engine and its highly skilled workforce are not prepared to allow the viability of this historic site to be undermined without a battle.

“The ability to resolve this dispute is entirely in the hands of Rolls-Royce.”

Completely unacceptable

Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner added: “The decision by Rolls-Royce to shift work from Barnoldswick to Singapore, costing hundreds of skilled jobs, removing opportunities for coming generations and undermining the long term future of the site, is completely unacceptable.  

 “Involved in the fight of their lives, workers have united the whole community in demanding replacement products, investment and guarantees over jobs and the plant's future.  We urge the company to commit to that long term future and a loyal, highly skilled workforce, before the dispute escalates and the name of Rolls-Royce as a world class UK brand is undermined further.”

 ENDS

Notes to editors:

Ross Quinn will be available for interview

Three weeks of strike action announced at Rolls-Royce’s Lancashire factory in battle to prevent jobs being offshored

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.