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Rolls Royce strike sign Photo: Chris Neville

Rolls Royce strike sign Photo: Chris Neville

Rolls-Royce workers in Barnoldswick aren’t backing down and have extended their strike action to Xmas eve, reports Chris Neville

Unite has announced today that the Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick strike will see second and third waves with an extension that will last until December 24th.

The strike, which began on November 16th is a fight to save the jobs from the Barnoldswick site being offshored to Singapore. It was scheduled to last for three weeks but will now see finishing inspectors, machinists, electricians and instrumentation workers continue the action until Christmas Eve.

Workers there have received huge support from across the labour movement, including from a number of MPs. Grahame Morris, MP for Easington and chair of the Unite parliamentary group has called on the government to attach conditions to save jobs for further government handouts to businesses. Rolls-Royce has already received billions in government-backed loans.

Unite regional officer Ross Quinn also criticised Rolls-Royce for abusing the money it had received from the government in a Unite press release today: 

“Rolls-Royce is behaving appallingly and should hang its head in shame. These highly skilled jobs are more crucial than ever and for them to be shipped abroad will be devastating for the 350 workers and their families, Barnoldswick and the UK’s manufacturing base as a whole. To do so while taking government handouts meant to sustain the nation’s economy through the pandemic is beyond the pale.

"The striking workers have the full support of their community and will not rest until Rolls-Royce reverses these profoundly damaging plans, which, if enacted, will sound the death knell for nearly eight decades of Rolls-Royce manufacturing in Barnoldswick.

"This week, the company will be meeting with ministers and MPs to discuss the proposals. Given the criticism of Rolls-Royce’s actions from across the political divide, Unite is in no doubt that the company’s leadership will be urged to reconsider its plans by MPs in attendance. If Rolls-Royce refuses, the government must make any further support conditional on the jobs staying in Barnoldswick.” 

At a time when it's all too easy for employers to use coronavirus as a convenient excuse to shift the burden of lost profits onto workers, this struggle is critically important. It is an all-out fight to protect jobs and can act as a springboard to inspire others to take a stand.

A letter of solidarity that can be passed through trade union branches and CLPs is available here.

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