A CAMPAIGN is being launched to protect the future of a major East Lancashire factory after Rolls-Royce confirmed 9,000 job losses world-wide.

Local politicians today expressed fears for the survival of the firm's two plants in Barnoldswick after the aerospace giant said site closures were being considered.

Rolls-Royce employs 730 at its two fan-blade factories in the town, Bankfield and Ghyll Brow, which are a key part of a wider supply chain across East Lancashire.

The news follows aerospace firm Safran Nacelles in Burnley announcing 250 job losses.

Miranda Barker, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said the loss of the Barnoldswick plants would be 'a hammer blow' to the local economy.

Cllr David Whipp, who represents the town on Pendle Borough and Lancashire County Council, said: "I will be leading a campaign to ensure Rolls-Royce remains in Barnoldswick. It would be a cruel blow if these two plants were lost.

"We will do whatever we can to make sure Rolls-Royce stays in the town and to protect highly-skilled jobs there. The firm is vital to the whole aerospace supply chain in East Lancashire."

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson is to meet the company, unions and industry ministers to seek assurances on the plant future.

He said: "This announcement will be deeply concerning for Rolls-Royce employees and their families.

"Both Barnoldswick sites are vitally important and I have been previously assured that their future was not in question. I will be seeking urgent reassurance this remains the case."

Fears for the factories were sparked when Rolls Royce chief executive Warren East confirmed the job losses and a major reorganisation of its civil aerospace division including 'a detailed review of our facility footprint'.

He blamed the impact of coronavirus on aviation for the 'terrible news' but said action was needed to protect the business in the long term. The company has 52,000 employees globally and 23,300 in the UK

Barnoldswick production is exclusively for civil aircraft engines which Mr East said would bear the brunt of the job cuts.

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, leader of Pendle Council, said: "Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick is a major employer in East Lancashire with a long history.

"The council will do everything it can to ensure that the plant stays where it is.

"We will be asking government to support us in making certain Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick remains.

"We will be fighting to keep as many jobs as we can there."

Ms Barker said: "This is another major sign of the instability of the civil aerospace sector in East Lancashire following the announcement by Safran Nacelles is Burnley it is set to cut 250 jobs.

"We need a government task force to support civil aerospace.

"We have to save Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick. Losing the two plants there would be another hammer blow to the East Lancashire economy and the sector."

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of the Unite union, said: "The news that Rolls-Royce is preparing to throw thousands of skilled, loyal, world-class workers, their families and communities under the bus during the worst public health crisis since 1918 is shameful opportunism. We call upon Rolls-Royce to step back from the brink and work with us on a better way through this crisis."