Protest today at Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick site against 'disaster capitalism'

A protest at the historic Rolls Royce Barnoldswick plant will be held at noon today as strikes resume over the company’s perceived lack of concrete commitments to the site’s future.

By Dominic Collis
Monday, 9th August 2021, 10:11 am
Updated Monday, 9th August 2021, 10:12 am
Rolls-Royce, Barnoldswick
Rolls-Royce, Barnoldswick

A group of 17 engineers began strike action in July after Rolls Royce bosses refused to provide tangible commitments to new work or to suspend work being sent elsewhere, which is taking place at an accelerated rate.

A ballot for the site’s entire workforce to join the dispute closes this Friday.

In January, Rolls Royce reached an agreement with Unite that guaranteed the future of the factory, including retaining a minimum of 350 workers and creating a training centre.

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The agreement was reached after workers and the local community mounted a huge campaign to save the factory, after the aerospace giant revealed plans to scale back production that would have spelled the plant’s closure.

Following a meeting in May this year, however, Unite was forced to issue a failure to agree notice with Rolls Royce after local managers indicated that staff headcount could drop below 350 and orders would continue to be completed abroad.

Unite has been attempting to resolve the matter and seek reassurances about Barnoldswick’s long-term future, which have so far failed to materialise.

Unite regional officer Ross Quinn said: “This dispute could be put to bed very quickly if Rolls Royce’s leadership demonstrate to the workers that the agreement signed in January is still valid.

“We were promised a green new deal but all we’ve seen is corporate greenwash. Fan blades that would be transported from Lancashire to Derby will now go via Singapore. No green tech, no training school to compensate, just disaster capitalism.

“The staff, and indeed the community’s surrounding Barnoldswick, know full well that Rolls Royce’s original plans would have seen the factory close for good.

“All they want to know is whether a Rolls Royce guarantee means anything. Is the company sticking to the agreement made in January or once again will they fail to deliver?”

Meanwhile, the embattled engine-maker returned to profit in the first half of 2021, but warned that the pandemic-hit international aviation industry is taking longer than expected to recover.

The Derby-based group posted bottom-line profits of £393 million for the first six months of the year in a marked improvement from mammoth losses of £5.4 billion a year ago, helped by swingeing cost-cutting.

On an underlying basis, it reported pre-tax profits of £133 million compared with losses of £3.2 billion a year earlier, while its preferred adjusted earnings measure showed profits.

Shares lifted 3% on the better-than-expected result.