The Rolls-Royce jet engine factory in Barnoldswick in the United Kingdom has been saved after a nine-week strike by members the organized labor Unite group. The future of the factory was closure when Rolls-Royce last summer announced that it was transferring the production of its Trent jet engine blade work to Singapore. The workforce voted for industrial action and began targeted strike action on 6 November last year which ran until Christmas Eve. Workers returned to the picket lines at the start of 2021.
The hamlet of Barnoldswick, home to 11,000 people, rallied in defense of their community. The Rolls-Royce factory, in operation since 1943, is the birthplace of the jet engine and the main employer there. The shuttering would have had devastating consequences for the prosperity of the local community.
Unite has long criticized the elitist UK government for its failure to develop an industrial strategy that invests in the development, growth and transition of manufacturing. Despite the lack of political support, the union negotiated a deal that saved jobs and manufacturing capacity while preparing for the future. The dispute was widely supported in the UK, and IndustriALL Global Union affiliates from around the globe stood with their colleagues, sending messages of solidarity.
The deal, supported overwhelmingly by the workforce, will give the historic site a new lease of life as a core manufacturing facility and host to a new center of excellence that will train engineers to meet the “challenges of the climate emergency.”
- A ten-year manufacturing guarantee for the site.
- A guaranteed minimum headcount of 350 workers.
- Creation of a training school supporting the development and manufacture of zero carbon technologies.
- A guarantee of a two year no compulsory redundancy agreement to facilitate discussions on a plan for advanced manufacturing work, supporting carbon free energy generation, along with synthetic fuels and green technologies.
“This dispute has been especially important to the IndustriALL global aerospace steering committee because it sets such a precedent. This deal is testament to the tenacity and courage of the members, as well as the willingness of the company to negotiate in good faith and listen to the union’s alternative business case. We believe that this groundbreaking deal shows a way forward for the sector, preserving jobs and skills while preparing for the future,” said IndustriALL assistant general secretary Atle Høie.