Rolls-Royce warns of further significant job losses

Rolls-Royce, which had already planned to cut 200 Lancashire jobs, says a further 350 are at risk as it plans to consolidate its two Barnoldswick sites.

The company will be reducing activities at its Bankfield site, including phasing out the manufacture of blades for its Trent engines by Autumn 2023. The future of its Static Compressor Assembly Modules plant within Bankfield remains uncertain.

Rolls-Royce will maintain a technical support centre and new product development hub, as well as continuing to manufacture blades for older engine types. It is currently exploring consolidating its Ghyll Brow into Bankfield.

A Rolls-Royce spokesperson said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has created a historic shock in civil aviation which will take several years to recover. Demand for our civil aerospace products and services has fallen significantly and we’ve had to take difficult, but necessary decisions to position ourselves for the future.

"We are now consulting with trade unions and employee representatives. Today’s news will understandably be very worrying for everyone working in Barnoldswick, and our number one priority is to provide support to our employees and their families."

Workers' union Unite condemned the plans, which it believes paves the way for moving operations abroad. The organisation also called for further government support for the sector.

Unite national officer for aerospace Rhys McCarthy said: "These plans are a horrible blow for staff, particularly as Rolls-Royce is proposing to abandon production in the UK and move work to Singapore and Germany. Unite will leave no stone unturned to prevent these sites being closed and jobs being moved abroad.

"For Rolls-Royce to lay out plans to lay off the majority of staff at its Barnoldswick sites whilst moving work to Singapore is a complete betrayal of a skilled and loyal workforce. In 2009, staff were assured that the production of Trent engine wide chord blades would continue at Barnoldswick despite another plant being opened in Singapore – an assurance we now know was not worth the paper it was written on.

"There is no use in trying to deny that the coronavirus pandemic has not had a devastating impact on air transport and by extension the aerospace sector. In other countries, however, steps have been taken to ensure their post-pandemic futures and to protect jobs. Yesterday, the German government confirmed that it will be extending its short time working scheme, its version of the UK’s job retention scheme, until March 2022.

"If a similar scheme, in which the wages of workers working less hours are subsidised by the government to prevent vital personnel and skills being lost, was adopted in the UK, the risk of job losses at Rolls-Royce, and many other companies, would be minimised."

Aerospace, a key sector in the county's economy, has been particularly badly affected by the global coronavirus pandemic. Safran Nacelles warned that as many as 750 jobs are at risk, and Unite predicts that as many as 13,000 related jobs across the region could be lost overall.

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