Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson reassures Barnoldswick Rolls-Royce workers over redundancy worries
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The engineering giant announced this week that it plans to axe up to 2,500 jobs globally to create a "more efficient and effective" company, but has not yet decided which sites those will come from.
However, Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, writing in his Leader Times column this week, said: “Last week, prior to the company’s announcement of up to 2,500 redundancies across the business, I visited Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick for a site update. I discussed developments with both local management, union representatives and the company's government relations team, before chatting to some of the employees and apprentices.
“Rolls-Royce’s announcement in 2020, that they planned to stop the large-scale production of wide-chord fan blades at Barnoldswick, was devastating news for our area and led to significant job losses and industrial action. At the time I had some very heated conversations with the then Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East and the last time I was at the Barnoldswick site was when I joined workers on the picket line.
“Thankfully a deal struck between the company and Unite the Union secured a commitment to keep manufacturing in Barnoldswick for at least 10 years, with new work including some defence work being brought to the site and no compulsory redundancies for five years.
“During my visit that the agreement is being stuck to, with the employees I met a lot more upbeat than on some previous visits. I’ve also subsequently received assurances from Rolls that the redundancies announced this week will not be affecting Barnoldswick where the defence work undertaken on site has increased. Indeed, it was great to meet some of the new apprentices – the first intake of apprentices at the Barnoldswick site for several years.
“It was also good to hear about the progress being made on having fan blade maintenance and repair work being undertaken on site, rather than just production. I still feel that the Barnoldswick site should be producing a significant number of wide-chord fan blades, now the aerospace sector has recovered from Covid-19 and will raise this with Tufan Erginbilgiç, the company’s new CEO, when we next meet.
“I also believe that the site is ideal for helping deliver the companies new Small Modular Reactors (SMR) programme, which the company is pushing forwards with thanks to significant government support. Following my visit, I will again be meeting with Rolls-Royce’s SMR team to discuss this and will continue to speak to the Trade Union representatives to see what more I can do to support their work.
“Overall, I saw lots of reasons to be optimistic, however I still feel the unique skills of the Barnoldswick workforce are not being harnessed as fully as they could be for the benefit of the company and our local area.”
Meanwhile, a Rolls-Royce spokesman said: “The next phase of the organisational development will take place over the coming weeks through to January 2024, so we don’t yet know where many of the proposed reductions will be based.
“We are working with our employee representatives throughout the process and will continue to keep them and our employees updated as we complete the proposed business design.”