Socialist Worker

Rolls-Royce battle shows strikes are the best way to fight back

Issue No. 2738

Strikers fought for nine weeks

Strikers fought for nine weeks (Pic: Unite North West)

A deal has been agreed at the Rolls-Royce plant in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, that has saved jobs.

It follows nine weeks of strikes. Unite union members had been fighting a threat to 350 jobs and the possible ­closure of the site.

The deal, which Unite has called “ground-breaking”, includes a minimum headcount of 350 workers, and a two-year no compulsory redundancy agreement.

Sustained strikes have secured much more than failed ­propaganda campaigns such as at Ford Bridgend in South Wales and Honda in Swindon.

Ross Quinn, Unite regional officer, said that faced with the threat to jobs, workers “united, taking to the picket line in all weathers to fight back against closure, and won”.

Strikes are always a powerful response to attacks from bosses and show the strength workers have.


But it is still possible that Rolls-Royce bosses may push through rounds of voluntary redundancies.

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite, said the deal “proves that unions, working with employers and communities, can achieve the green industrial future that Unite has demanded”.

He added, “I’d like to recognise the role of Rolls-Royce CEO, Warren East, who was prepared to listen to a clear alternative business case for this highly skilled, dedicated workforce.”

It’s not bosses who have saved jobs, it was the resistance to them.

Workers at Barnoldswick will be relieved at what their courageous struggle has achieved.

But there will need to be renewed organisation, and constant vigilance, to oppose any move to cut jobs or attack pay and conditions.

Pay cuts don’t save jobs

Unite union members employed at the Airbus plant in Broughton, north Wales, have been asked to vote on accepting pay cuts to “save jobs”.

The plan which has been negotiated between Unite and Airbus will see a reduction in the working week of 5 percent to 10 percent.

In response, the bosses say they will lift the possibility of compulsory redundancies.

But there might be voluntary redundancies.

Can workers stop job cuts when the system’s in crisis?
Can workers stop job cuts when the system’s in crisis?
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Peter Hughes, Unite Wales regional secretary, said, “We have already lost close to 1,000 high quality jobs at Broughton during the coronavirus crisis, we can’t afford to lose any more. This plan to reduce hours will come with a reduction in pay for our members but Unite and our senior reps on site believe this is the best option available.”

The company says it will make up a third of the pay reduction that will flow from the cut in hours.

However, the experience across the industry shows that accepting a trade-off between pay and jobs simply encourages further management blackmail at a later stage.

And there’s a question over why 1,000 jobs have already gone at Broughton without serious resistance.

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