Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick picket line. Photo: Chris Neville Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick picket line. Photo: Chris Neville

Barnoldswick workers have set an example for the labour movement and deserve continued support as they consider the deal, reports Chris Neville

The strike at Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick, which has been underway for over two months, has now been suspended by the union to consider a deal put forward by the company.

As Richard Allday wrote for Counterfire in October, this has been a major battle in the context of workers being forced to bear the brunt of companies’ financial losses due to the coronavirus crisis. The strikers won huge support locally and mobilised local people to back them.

The strike was originally scheduled to last for three weeks but has been extended twice due to the lack of flexibility on behalf of Rolls-Royce in negotiations.

Unite reports that the deal revolves around the workers accepting a proposal that would see the site become the company’s ‘centre of training and excellence’ and establish Rolls-Royce as a “key player in green and emerging technologies”. This would preserve 350 jobs that were under threat as well as the historic site, which has existed for over 80 years.

Unite also says that the deal has the unanimous backing of the plant committee, the shop stewards and convenors, and they will be advising their members as such when they meet to decide whether or not to accept the deal.

Suspending the strike before workers have discussed and voted on it may have been premature, and management must guarantee all the threatened jobs without worsening conditions. While Barnoldswick workers consider the deal, we should continue to offer them our support and solidarity. They have stood up against a vicious, opportunistic employer and set an example of how to respond to closures.

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