WORKERS AT the historic Rolls-Royce plant have this morning begun their first day of strike action.

The strikes have been launched in opposition to plans by the company to offshore production of Trent engine blades from its Barnoldswick plant to Singapore, which would result in 350 jobs being cut in Lancashire.

As such, today marks the beginning of a series of targeted strikes undertaken by the Unite union after workers voted in favour of industrial action, with union members set to maintain a socially-distanced picket throughout the dispute.

Unite regional officer Ross Quinn said: “Our members are taking industrial action as a last resort and have given Rolls-Royce every opportunity to alter its plans by ensuring the viability of Barnoldswick and confirming there will be no compulsory redundancies.

“This dispute is not just about maintaining the viability of the Rolls-Royce factory in Barnoldswick, it is about the future prosperity of the local community.

“Barnoldswick is the cradle of the jet engine and its highly skilled workforce are not prepared to allow the viability of this historic site to be undermined without a battle.

“The ability to resolve this dispute is entirely in the hands of Rolls-Royce.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

The Barnoldswick job losses come as part of the 9,000 cuts revealed by the company in May, over 3,000 of which are in the UK, under a major reorganisation in the face of the pandemic.

A Rolls-Royce spokesperson said: “The global pandemic has hit our business hard.

“Although we have taken swift action and put many, often painful, mitigation plans in place, we must continue to further reduce our cost base so that we can safeguard the future of Rolls-Royce, return to break even and work towards our target of reaching positive cashflow in the second half of 2021.”

However, the Unite union says that job cuts are unacceptable considering the company’s efforts to secure £1 billion worth of funding from the government.

Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner added: “The decision by Rolls-Royce to shift work from Barnoldswick to Singapore, costing hundreds of skilled jobs, removing opportunities for coming generations and undermining the long term future of the site, is completely unacceptable.

“Involved in the fight of their lives, workers have united the whole community in demanding replacement products, investment and guarantees over jobs and the plant's future.

“We urge the company to commit to that long-term future and a loyal, highly skilled workforce, before the dispute escalates and the name of Rolls-Royce as a world class UK brand is undermined further.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

The targeted strikes are set to continue until Friday November 27.