Socialist Worker

Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick on strike again after bosses’ betrayal

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2764

On the picket line on Monday

On the picket line on Monday (Pic: Unite North West)


Workers at the Rolls-Royce plant in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, are back on strike.

They held a high-profile strike at the end of last year. But issues that seemed to have been solved then have now reappeared.

A group of specialist engineers began a new wave of action on Monday.

Unite union regional officer Ross Quinn told Socialist Worker the first picket line was “great”. “There’s been lots of support, and members have come out,” he said.

A nine-week strike in 2020 was called to oppose plans to reduce production at the factory amid fears of its closure.

An agreement was reached between Rolls-Royce and Unite that guaranteed a minimum of 350 workers would remain at the site, and a training centre would be built.

But now 17 engineers are striking for five days in the week prior to a two week annual shut down.

Further strikes are set to begin on 9 August to 20 August. Other workers at the plant are set to be balloted later in the summer.

Quinn said, “After what the employers did last time, we can’t say we’re surprised. Especially given the decade of disappointments workers here have suffered”.

Redundancies

The previous strikes won a guarantee that there would be no redundancies for two years. But already workers have started to be offloaded.

Quinn said, “Our members would rather be out here fighting to do something about it rather than shrugging their shoulders.

“Managers have also told workers that the ­training school will be knocked down two years after its completion.”

Bosses also plan to have only 200 people on site, rather than the agreed 350.

Quinn said workers need “clear guarantees” that they won’t be “stood up in future”.

“At each stage the company gave us warm words about the future of the site, but we haven’t seen material differences to have any confidence.”

Strikes this time around won’t be restricted by Covid-19 laws, so the strikers are hoping to “be a lot more visible than they were last time”.

“We’ll do whatever it takes,” Quinn said. Swift escalation and involving more workers will be crucial.


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