Activists call on Sheffield Council to 'pressure' Rolls-Royce into halting redundancies

The Labour party and union activists are calling on Sheffield Council to pressure Rolls-Royce into halting redundancies at its factory.

By David Walsh
Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 4:45 pm

Sheffield Heeley and Central Constituency Labour Parties are demanding the authority does ‘all it can’ to prevent job losses after a ‘vast amount’ of public money was invested in the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

Rolls-Royce employs 200 at its Advanced Blade Casting Facility on the site.

Last year, Unite union persuaded the firm to place 85 employees on furlough. But last month the company warned 75 jobs were at risk due to the impact of Covid on air travel.

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Joe Rollin, of Unite and the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.

The company says it is working with Unite to reduce losses through voluntary severance or redeployment. The next nearest Rolls site is in Derby.

The Labour party motion states: ‘This Constituency Labour Party notes the vast amount of public money invested in the Advanced Manufacturing Park over the years by Sheffield City Council, along with the Sheffield City Region, and the celebration of this by the council as much-needed regeneration on the site of the former Orgreave coking plant.

‘The CLP believes that Sheffield City Council needs to play its part in protecting these jobs by putting pressure on Rolls Royce to withdraw these proposals.

‘This CLP notes that Sheffield City Council will be holding their Budget Council on Wednesday 3rd March 2021 and believes that in order to address the economic difficulties the city faces as a result of Tory cuts to their budget over the last 10 years, exacerbated by the current pandemic, the council needs to do all it can to prevent job losses such as these’.

Rolls-Royce employs 200 at its Advanced Blade Casting Facility on the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

It also calls on Sheffield Labour MPs to support the campaign, write to council leader Bob Johnson and raise the issue in Parliament.

Joe Rollin, of Unite and the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, said highly-skilled jobs were hard to create and even harder to get back.

He wants workers at the Rolls-Royce turbine blade factory in Rotherham - the site of the famous battle of Orgreave - to be kept on furlough instead of being made redundant.

Mr Rollin says bosses and politicians should be doing all they can to protect them, including spending public money - just as millions were spent bringing McLaren and Boeing factories to South Yorkshire.

He fears that once lost, they will be replaced by ‘precarious’ low wage, non-unionised work - the opposite of what the campaign was set up to fight for.

He added: “It’s a problem across the country, but concentrated in the North and the government has no industrial strategy to counter it.”

A spokeswoman for Rolls-Royce said the government furlough scheme was a short-term solution and they were looking at a much longer term impact on the business due to the pandemic.

She added: “Last year, we announced a major reorganisation of our civil aerospace business due to the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in a drop in engine flying hours and weaker demand from our customers for large engines and our services products.

“As part of the global restructuring programme we recently advised our team in Rotherham of a proposal to reduce the number of employees there by 75.

“We are continuing to work closely with the trade union to mitigate as many of the roles as possible through voluntary severence and redeployment.

“We understand this is a very worrying time for our employees in Rotherham and our number one priority is to provide support to them and their families as we work through this process.

“We currently have around 85 employees at Rotherham on furlough. However, it is clear that aviation will take several years to recover and we must continue to further reduce our cost base so that we can safeguard the future of Rolls-Royce.

“The government furlough scheme is a short-term solution and unfortunately we are looking at much longer term impact on our business.”

Sheffield Council has been contacted for comment.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.