Rolls-Royce has announced that it will be closing its Barnoldswick plant from Friday and moving work overseas.
In what union members are calling a ‘Christmas lockout’ the company will keep the plant closed from Friday November 27 until after Christmas, while workers who have taken part in strike action may not receive furlough payments.
This comes after workers launched a series of targeted strikes in opposition to the company’s plan to cut 350 jobs and offshore production of jet engine blades to Singapore.
Unite regional officer Ross Quinn said: “We have consistently called on Rolls Royce to work with us to find the resolution that the members who have given their working lives to Rolls Royce deserve.
“However, the company has shown absolutely no appetite to resolve the dispute.
“The decision to lock workers out of Barnoldswick before Christmas and to immediately offshore work at the factory demonstrates that Rolls-Royce has no intention of negotiating or consulting its loyal workers on its plans.”
From Friday, work currently undertaken at Barnoldswick will be transferred to Japan, Singapore and Spain.
The company has also announced that workers who are not part of the current targeted industrial action will be furloughed during this period and will receive 80 per cent of their pay during this time.
However, this is not part of the government’s official job retention scheme and no such assure has been made for workers who have taken part in strikes.
Mr Quinn said: “By its actions today it appears that Rolls-Royce is simply not prepared to enter into negotiations and to preserve this historic site.
“Instead it has undertaken this course of action which damages workers, the local community and the historic Rolls-Royce brand.
“We remain committed to finding a resolution and call on the company to meet with Unite immediately before they do irreparable damage to this workforce and community.”
Meanwhile, the company claims that the move is being carried out for health and safety reasons, rather than to target strikers.
A spokesperson said: “We always have a shutdown of our UK facilities over Christmas.
“In Barnoldswick we are having to carry out that shutdown early because the staff who help us close the site safely and securely are planning to be on strike from the end of this month.
“We will be furloughing employees on 80% of their normal pay but will not be claiming this money back from the UK Government.
“Due to the length of the industrial action and unclear duration, we will have to source parts that would normally be made in Barnoldswick from other parts of our supply chain.
“This temporary use of dual source suppliers is needed to protect Rolls-Royce customers and is not the same as moving work overseas.”
In response, Pendle District Council deputy leader David Whipp has called for all sides to work together to resolve the dispute.
He said: “This is an unfolding tragedy for the company’s presence in Barnoldswick.
“It threatens the life-blood of our town and advanced manufacturing across Pendle and East Lancashire.
“It’s beyond time that all sides, including the Government, got round the table before the company burns its boats in Barnoldswick.
“The situation is going from bad to worse, action is needed now.”