Following two weeks of strikes by a group of 17 specialist engineers at the Rolls Royce plant in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, the rest of the workforce has now voted for strikes, in a ballot which closed on 13 August.
Their union, Unite, has delayed calling action. Union officers say “tangible progress” is being made in talks, and that workers are hopeful the dispute can be resolved without the need for further strikes.
The latest phase of the dispute began when Rolls Royce bosses reneged on commitments, won by workers via sustained strikes in 2020, including maintaining staffing levels at the site at a minimum of 350 workers. Rolls Royce had planned to offshore work from the site and gradually run it down, until strikes forced a u-turn. The settlement also saw Rolls Royce agree to create an apprenticeship academy at the site to train future workers, and explore a transition to producing green technology.
The strike vote shows that, should talks falter, workers are prepared to take action. Rolls Royce’s conduct demonstrates the employer is not to be trusted. The ballot mandate must be used if firm guarantees on jobs and future work are not secured.