Job cut shock at Rolls-Royce’s Barnoldswick plants

Rolls-Royce's Ghyll Brow site in Barnoldswick.
Rolls-Royce's Ghyll Brow site in Barnoldswick.

Staff at Rolls-Royce were left stunned on Monday when it was announced that more than 100 jobs are to go at the company’s Barnoldswick plants.

Shop floor workers at Bankfield and Ghyll Brow were told that up to 122 staff could be axed from August.

Discussions are now under way with the trade union as to how best to carry out the reduction.

It is envisaged that temporary workers will go first followed by potential volunteers in an attempt to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Convenor Jon Brough met Rolls-Royce’s chief executive in Derby on Wednesday in an already-planned meeting, but with staff reductions shooting to the top of the agenda.

News of the scale of the job cuts, around an eighth of Rolls-Royce employees involved in manufacturing in Barnoldswick, has come as a surprise to some as a figure for potential staff shedding was put at 27 in January.

Mark Porter, a Unite activist at Rolls-Royce, said: “Consultation meetings have started and we need to find out how this decision has been arrived at and what this all means.”

The firm has just signed a billion dollar deal with Japan’s All Nippon Airways to supply Trent engines and this follows a string of deals worth billions secured with various airlines throughout 2013.

A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said the final figure could be fewer than 122.

He said: “We are working hard to reduce costs across our business to remain competitive.

“We must also react to changing demands from our customers and this has led to a reduced workload in our Barnoldswick facility.

“We are in the early stages of consultation with employee representatives and we hope to avoid compulsory redundancies.”

The spokesman insisted that this was not a case of shipping work out to Rolls-Royce’s Singapore factory and that Barnoldswick will continue to provide fan blades for newly-secured engine orders.

But the spokesman added that Barnoldswick also produces fan blades for other engines and customers which have seen a reduction in demand and that shop floor workers do fluctuate in number as progression from order to production of new engines is a “long process”.

Production of the newly-ordered engines is expected to ramp up from next year.

Coun. Paul White, speaking on behalf of Andrew Stephenson MP who continues to recover in hospital, said: “This is obviously disappointing news for Rolls-Royce and its employees.

“Andrew is the vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Aerospace he follows the industry very closely, and Rolls-Royce certainly has a high reputation worldwide.

“He was made aware of the potential for a restructure, and met Ian Burgess at the Barnoldswick site in January.

“He remains confident that the majority of these redundancies will be taken as voluntary and as aerospace is still a growing sector and strong across Pendle, that the Pendle-wide aerospace industry will support those people who are unfortunately made redundant.

“Andrew will do all he can to support and facilitate that.”