Tuesday, March 9, 2021

News: MP raises issue of Rolls-Royce Rotherham redundancies


Sarah Champion MP has used her opportunity to speak to the House of Commons on the recent Budget to call on Rolls-Royce and the Government to protect jobs in Rotherham.

Rothbiz reported last month that Rolls-Royce was proposing to cut around 30% of the workforce at its advanced blade casting facility on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham.

Hit hard by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the global aviation industry, the Derby-based engineering giant had previously announced a reorganisation that is expected to result in the loss of at least 9,000 roles from a global workforce of 52,000.

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, said: "The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been immediate and severe. While it is welcome that the Government have taken some steps to protect jobs in the short term, the reality for many is that they face losing jobs that were stable and secure prior to this crisis.

"Sadly, that process has already begun in Rotherham. In my constituency, 75 workers at Rolls-Royce face imminent redundancy. Those are well-paid, highly-skilled jobs, and their loss will have a devastating impact on the town.

"Rolls-Royce’s Rotherham facility is based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, which I know will be familiar to the Minister. The park is a world-class base for innovation, research and manufacturing and the jewel in the crown of our local economy. The Government are more than happy to use it as a backdrop for policy announcements. What they must do now, however, is defend its long-term future."

Rolls Royce is due to announce its 2020 Full Year Results on Thursday. Pre-tax losses could be in the billions.

Champion added: "The aerospace sector has been hit especially hard by the pandemic, and I appreciate the profound challenges that Rolls-Royce faces. The need for the Government to support this strategically important industry is self-evident. They must recognise the inextricable link between aerospace and the wider aviation sector. That is particularly true for businesses such as Rolls-Royce, which derives revenue from the flying hours of the engines it produces. The global travel taskforce is an important step, but the aviation and aerospace sectors need a clear exit strategy, and one that works internationally. These businesses are global and do not work just to a UK boundary.

"The UK should use its chairing of the G7 this year to create a global plan to get aviation flying again. Aerospace and aviation are industries that may take considerably longer than others to recover once restrictions are lifted. The Government need to acknowledge that additional, long-term business support will be needed. This means also accepting that measures such as furlough may need to continue beyond September in certain sectors. The Government should view this as an investment for future prosperity. As the Chancellor himself acknowledged in the Budget: "Business investment creates jobs, lifts growth, spurs innovation and drives productivity." I agree, but the Government’s rhetoric on levelling up the north will ring hollow if they stand idly by while dedicated, highly skilled workers lose their jobs.

"While I am sympathetic to the challenges that the industry faces, Rolls-Royce is not without fault. I am concerned that despite the furlough scheme, it is pressing ahead with substantial job losses. Furlough’s very purpose is to prevent that from happening, so why is it not using it? These are skilled employees who will not easily be replaced as the industry recovers. To show them the door now is deeply short-sighted and will have wider implications for the supply chain and Rotherham’s economy. Taxpayer support for business to survive the current crisis must aim to protect jobs and not the bottom line of shareholders."

When questioned by the Rotherham MP, the Government confirmed that it provided £15.43m of grant support through the Grant for Business investment for the construction of the £110m facility on the AMP.

Officially opened in 2015 and fully operational in 2017, the 150,000 sq ft Rotherham foundry is the most advanced turbine blade casting facility in the world and is used for Rolls-Royce's pioneering work in the manufacture of single crystal (SX) turbine blades. The advanced turbine blade castings are produced for the company's most modern, high-thrust engines.

Rolls-Royce website

Images: Rolls-Royce / Google Maps


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