Responding to the news that Rolls Royce is looking to cut `up to 8,000' UK jobs, the country's leading manufacturing union, Unite, called for the company to `hold firm' and avoid short-term action which could hamper its emergence from the COVID-19 crisis.

The union is urging Rolls Royce and other manufacturing companies to avoid `knee-jerk' reactions and instead work with Unite and the government to develop the industrial strategy that will develop and deliver the jobs of tomorrow.

Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing, said: "We say to Rolls Royce today, step back from drastic, short-term responses and work with us to shape a positive future for a world class business, our highly skilled workforce and our communities.  Help us to deliver a government led industrial strategy to build our way out of this crisis and meet the challenges of the future.

“These are unprecedented times. We understand the challenges to our industries from COVID-19 and the impact of government measures to protect public health on both the immediate and longer-term outlook for manufacturing as well as the wider economy.

 "However, at a time when we are working hard to protect jobs and businesses through this pandemic with pay protection, government loans and other industry specific packages backed by the Bank of England, right now we are asking Rolls-Royce, along with others across manufacturing, to hold firm and defer from short-term reactions that will both damage the economy and undermine our ability to emerge from this with job security and consumer confidence intact. 

 "Our economy is changing and our manufacturing sector has to be in a fit shape to rise to these challenges. The demands of climate change and major public infrastructure projects will require engineering solutions and UK manufacturers stepping up and diversifying production to meet national demands. 

 “Our great manufacturing sector can and must be put to work developing and manufacturing for a cleaner, greener future; the heat pumps, domestic and commercial energy storage packs, carbon capture technologies, hydrogen and other green energy generation, including ramping up work on the world class small modular nuclear reactor developed by Rolls-Royce. 

 “We have an opportunity to showcase the best of British manufacturing that requires exactly the sort of research and development, design and engineering expertise possessed by the workforce at Rolls-Royce. 

 "Now is not the time to hang up our gloves and take our eye off the ball but to get into the fight, invest our way out of a very damaging looming recession from which millions of workers will also suffer.  We need to rebuild our manufacturing base, bring home our supply chains, localise production and end our reliance on imports of technology and engineered goods. 

 "We can do this, COVID-19 has exposed dangerous weaknesses in the resilience of UK manufacturing from PPE to ventilators, automotive components to the goods necessary to meet the climate emergency. Now is the time for action and to support, an industrial strategy to put Britain back to work, to put our engineering excellence and manufacturing capabilities centre stage, manufacturing it here at home."

 ENDS

Notes to editors:

 During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

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