Landmark Rolls-Royce deal will save 350 jobs

Rolls-Royce is looking to seal a deal with workers that will preserve hundreds of jobs at its historic Barnoldswick factory.

Members of the Unite union have been striking over the company’s plans to shift work from the site to Spain and Singapore, which would have resulted in the loss of around 490 jobs.

Unite has now suspended industrial action and will put the deal to its members to consider.

Rolls-Royce had announced plans to shift work overseas from the site, but the deal with Unite will preserve 350 jobs at Barnoldswick, which will become the engineering group’s centre of training and excellence.

Unions had described Rolls-Royce’s plans transfer work overseas as “death by a thousand cuts” for Barnoldswick, the ‘cradle of the jet engine’. Around 520 people re currently employed by the jet engine giant in the town.

During the Second World War, Frank Whittle’s engines for the RAF’s first jet fighters were developed there.

The British multinational has undergone a review of its civil aerospace operations, which have been badly hit by Covid-19.

It announced 9,000 job losses globally last May. Its restructuring aims to achieve total annual pre-tax cash savings of at least £1.3 billion by the end of 2022.

This workforce, their union and this community have battled long and hard for a brighter future and there is now very real hope

The targeted strike action at Barnoldswick has been ongoing for the past nine weeks. Union leaders described the breakthrough as a “landmark deal” that will give the site a “bright future”.

Under the proposals, Barnoldswick would be a key player in green and emerging technologies. The workforce will meet later this week to decide on acceptance of 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 underway at the site for eight weeks so that our members can look at the detail of the proposals and come to a decision.

"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 a statement Rolls-Royce said: “We are pleased to confirm that after many weeks of complex and constructive talks with Unite, they have 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.”