The number of workers being shed by Rolls Royce is a stark reminder of the lack of comprehensive financial measures to help British manufacturing through the coronavirus pandemic, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Thursday 9 July).

Rolls Royce confirmed today that 2,000 of its U.K. workforce would leave the company in August, the first of the 5,000 UK job losses announced recently.

Unite said that jobs being lost from manufacturing is the human price for not putting in place a comprehensive range of short to medium term measures, such as short-term working, to support the sector, similar to those adopted by the UK’s economic competitors, France and Germany.

The stark reality of the lack of UK government support measures means that Rolls Royce workers in Britain make up 25 per cent of global job loses compared to five per cent in Germany.

Unite said that it was extremely concerning that, in his speech yesterday, the chancellor Rishi Sunak ignored the desperate needs of the country’s manufacturing base -  with many of those factories in the very communities that the Johnson government pledged would be targeted as part of the so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda.

 Unite national officer for aerospace Rhys McCarthy said: “The job losses at Rolls Royce are a stark reminder that these are highly-skilled jobs that the UK economy can ill-afford to lose as it faces the economic realities of the post-pandemic world.

“Unite has called for a set of measures for manufacturing in the short to medium term, such as short term working, that our economic competitors France and Germany have already adopted.

“Unite has also repeatedly called for a comprehensive industrial strategy to underpin the UK’s manufacturing base as it goes through the Covid-19 emergency. What we are seeing instead is a series of tactics trying to delay the inevitable rather that a thought through sector based strategy to help rebuild and recover.

“Many of the factories and plants that make up the manufacturing base are in the very communities and regions, such as the north, that Boris Johnson promised would be at the heart of his so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda.

“Chancellor Rishi Sunak can no longer ignore the continuing plight of manufacturing – the future of the UK economy can’t be just based on services, consumer consumption and a cheap meal out.

“Yesterday’s £30bn mini-budget from the chancellor was centred on the consumer side of the economy and the needs of manufacturing were by-passed. The offer for firms of a £1,000 bonus for every furloughed worker taken on until January next year is, quite frankly, tinkering at the edges.

“Unite stands ready at a moment’s notice to constructively engage with Rishi Sunak and business secretary Alok Sharma over a financial lifeline to our beleaguered manufacturing industries and also to forge a comprehensive industrial strategy.

“Such a blueprint will maintain the UK’s world-class industries, such as Rolls  Royce; secure the future of tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs; and assist towards developing new technologies and industries that will help pay Britain’s way in the world in the decades ahead.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.