On the Picket Line

Rolls-Royce maintenance workers back on strike, win solidarity

By Hugo Wils
August 16, 2021

BARNOLDSWICK, England — Seventeen maintenance engineers who are members of the Unite union at Rolls-Royce’s jet-engine plant here have restarted strike action. The bosses have been dragging their heels in implementing a deal with the union to secure jobs through new investments. More workers threaten to join the strike if no resolution is reached.

Over 300 workers at the plant went on strike for nine weeks at the end of last year to stop job cuts at Barnoldswick. They forced the company to agree to keep 350 jobs and pledged there would be no layoffs for two years. Key to winning that strike was strong solidarity from Rolls-Royce workers at other plants.

“The spirit of the workforce and the picketers on strike is really strong,” said Unite Regional Officer Ross Quinn. “Community support is really strong also and we’ll keep going until we get the resolution that we need.”

Five striking biomedical workers from East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust came to the join the Unite picket line in solidarity July 22. Biomedical workers went on strike when hospital bosses failed to honor a pay increase they agreed to in 2019. Union conveners at the Rolls-Royce factories in Inchinnan, Scotland, and Ansty, in the Midlands, came to Barnoldswick to support the pickets the next day.

Messages of support can be sent to ross.quinn@unitetheunion.org.