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Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick plant.

Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick plant. Photo: N Chadwick / Geograph / CC BY-SA 2.0, license linked at bottom of article

Popular strike action at Rolls-Royce has resulted in a deal, but the workers should remain organised to ensure their employers stick to it, argues Chris Neville

Unite reported on Thursday that the workers at Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick have agreed to accept a deal with their employer. The deal was put to them just over a week ago and it was agreed that the strike action would be called off so that the workers could consider it.

According to Unite, the key parts of the deal are:

  • A ten-year manufacturing guarantee for the site
  • A guaranteed minimum headcount of 350 workers
  • The creation of a ‘centre of excellence’ training school supporting the development and manufacture of zero-carbon technologies and advanced manufacturing excellence
  • A guarantee of a two-year, no-compulsory-redundancy agreement to facilitate discussions on a plan to develop advanced manufacturing work, supporting carbon-free energy generation, along with synthetic fuels and green technologies.

Of course, there are still some questions around the deal and how likely Rolls-Royce will be to stick to their side of it. According to Unite, the company has a history of reneging on past deals made to save jobs. For this reason, it is imperative that the workers remain cautious and keep the pressure on Rolls-Royce to stick to their side of the bargain.

There is also the issue that Rolls-Royce is still proceeding with the offshoring of hundreds of jobs to Singapore. There will be many more examples of this in the coming years as global companies seek to cut labour costs and boost their profits.

This deal though is good news for the workers at the site and for the town itself. As one of the main employers in the area, the loss of so many jobs would have had a devastating impact locally. This was recognised from the beginning by residents and part of the reason the strike received such strong support in the community.

The workers were assisted by a huge wave of solidarity coming from the labour movement across the UK. Online rallies raised the profile of the strike, a cavalcade of hundreds of vehicles was organised to show how many others were on their side and MPs raised the issue in Parliament.

But the main reason they can celebrate a victory is down to their own willingness to take action. It's been a heroic battle from the workers at Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick. They were backed into a corner and fought back hard, picketing over long hours and through grim weather. They have shown that workers standing together get results.

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