Socialist Worker

Strikers battle for jobs at Barnoldswick Rolls-Royce plant

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2730

Picketing to fight for jobs

Picketing to fight for jobs (Pic: Unite North West on Twitter)


Workers at a Rolls-Royce factory in Lancashire have begun three weeks of strikes to save hundreds of jobs.

Unite union members at the airplane engine factory in Barnoldswick walked out on Friday, the first in a programme of rolling action until 27 November. Four departments at the factory will take turns to walk out during the three weeks against bosses’ plans to slash 350 jobs.

Rolls-Royce wants to offshore production of the Trent Engine blades to Singapore, southeast Asia.

Workers say this could lead to further job losses or the closure of the whole site down the line.

Mark Porter, the Unite works convenor at Barnoldswick, says “the level of uncertainty is just horrendous”. Two years ago this site was just shy of 1,200 people,” he explained, “we’re now down to 520.

“And if all things come to fruition, we'll have fewer than 100 people and probably closure after that.”

Workers mounted 350 Unite flags onto a trailer in front of the gates, one for each of the workers who face redundancy.

Strikes

They voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, with 94 percent backing strikes on a 77 percent turnout. Mark said, “We’re targeting strikes in several phases, different people at different times.

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“Today 81 people have been called out today and we believe all 81 have supported the action.”

Mark warned Rolls-Royce bosses that workers are prepared to call further walkouts unless they withdraw their jobs massacre. “The company should know,” he said, if they don’t come to the negotiating table to find a solution to the problem, there will be further phases.

“There will be a phase three, phase four, phase five unless they resolve this dispute.”

Lancaster trades council and supporters of People Before Profit went down to the picket line to show solidarity to the Rolls-Royce strikers. The group, which is backed by prominent Labour MPs, trade unionists and campaigners, is demanding an emergency programme for jobs, services and safety.

The Tories and bosses are determined to make workers pay with the lives and livelihoods for the coronavirus crisis.

Every trade unionist should build solidarity for the Rolls-Royce workers—a win for them would be a boost to everyone fighting to save jobs.

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