Socialist Worker

Strikers facing Christmas lockout from bullying Rolls-Royce management

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2733

Strikers are hoping to save 350 jobs

Strikers are hoping to save 350 jobs (Pic: Unite the union/Twitter)


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

Rolls-Royce bosses shut down their aeroplane engineering plant in Lancashire last Friday and said they would begin to offshore work. 

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

“It’s disgusting,” one striking Unite member told Socialist Worker. “It’s pretty much a real shock. 

“There’s other ways around it, but the company doesn’t seem to want to.”

Another Unite member said the lockout was “part of an ongoing plan” to move production abroad, not because of the coronavirus crisis. “We’re not going down without a fight,” he said. 

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

The union can pick a workplace issue to manufacture a dispute over. 

Exxagerated

Many Rolls-Royce workers believe that the company’s claim that offshoring will go ahead is exaggerated. 

They say the company needs the assistance of some Barnoldswick workers to support the transfer. 

Trade unionists and campaigners should support workers to resist any attempt to shift equipment. 

Unite is supporting a parliamentary campaign against the lockout alongside the industrial action.

This could boost solidarity for the strike, but relying on parliamentary campaign will not save jobs. 

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Unite ran a similar campaign over the closure of a Honda plant in Swindon. 

MPs raising an early day motion “attracted cross party support”. 

A march, organised late in the day in Swindon, was well-supported. 

But this sort of campaign did not prevent the closure of the Swindon plant, still  scheduled for 2021.

Huge job losses at the Rolls-Royce plant in Inchinnan were accepted despite a publicity campaign and verbal support from the Scottish TUC union federation. 

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon promised, “The Scottish government will continue to do everything we possibly can to get a more positive outcome to this. These jobs are important.” 

Bosses’ victory in Inchinnan encouraged them to go after workers in Barnoldswick. 

And if Rolls-Royce gets away with pushing through its attacks, it will then move on to workers in other parts of the company.


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