Socialist Worker

Rolls Royce plan shut down of Barnoldswick plant —only a united response can save jobs

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2733

Worker at Barnoldswick feel betrayed by Rolls-Royce

Workers at Barnoldswick feel "betrayed" by Rolls-Royce (Pic: Unite North West)


Strikers at Rolls-Royce need urgent solidarity from across the labour movement after bosses announced a Christmas lockout on Wednesday.

Rolls-Royce bosses plan to shut down the aeroplane engineering plant in Lancashire from Friday and immediately begin work offshore.

Unite union members at the Barnoldswick plant are in the middle of a series of strikes, due to continue until 23 December, to save 350 jobs.

Bosses’ move marks a serious escalation in the dispute.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “Rolls Royce drove our members into this fight and this latest action is utterly shameful, a total betrayal of a loyal workforce and of the community.

“Unite will not rest until the company pulls back from the brink and starts talking.”

Ross Quinn, Unite regional officer, slammed the lockout that could do “irreparable damage to this workforce and community.”

Quinn said it “demonstrates that Rolls-Royce has no intention of negotiating or consulting its loyal workers on its plans.

Negotiations

“Workers at Barnoldswick, who take huge pride in their work, began targeted industrial action as a last resort in order to ensure the future of the historic factory,” he said.

“By its actions today it appears that Rolls-Royce is simply not prepared to enter into negotiations and to preserve this historic site.

Bosses want to offshore the production of Trent Engine blades to Singapore, south east Asia.

One Rolls-Royce worker says they feel ‘betrayed” by bosses’ “broken promises”.

“We were promised about ten years ago that the company in Singapore would be a sister company and not a competitor,” he said.

“Ten years on, here we are seeing the demise of Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick.”

The labour movement should demand the government save the jobs—through public ownership not bailouts for shareholders.

People Before Profit group calls for a re-purposing of “industries like aviation, car production and engineering to urgently address the climate crisis” that have been hit by coronavirus.

Supporters of the group, which brings together Labour MPs, trade unionists, socialists and campaigners, have gone down to the picket lines to support strikers.

Rolls-Royce bosses’ escalation must be met by an escalation from the whole movement. This could mean spreading strikes to other Rolls-Royce plans to mount pressure onto the company.

The most effective immediate response would be an occupation to save jobs.

Rush messages of solidarity to [email protected] Join the People Before Profit rally on Facebook, 7pm, Tues 1 December. Mark Porter, Unite works convenor at Barnoldswick and Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner are among the speakers. Details here

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