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'Huge concern' for workers and economy after Rolls-Royce confirms 4,600 job cuts

Joseph Flaig

The CTi fan system on the Advanced Low Pressure System engine demonstrator (Credit: Rolls-Royce)
The CTi fan system on the Advanced Low Pressure System engine demonstrator (Credit: Rolls-Royce)

There are “huge concerns” for workers, the regional economy and skill levels after Rolls-Royce confirmed 4,600 job cuts over the next two years.

About 4,000 losses are expected in Derby in the East Midlands. Roughly a third of the cuts will take place by the end of 2018, with “headcount reductions” and other structural changes finished by mid-2020.

Rolls-Royce chief executive Warren East said the aerospace engine specialist was “streamlining” to generate bigger profits, and that most of the job cuts will be in corporate roles.

Local politicians, however, said the cuts would have a wide-reaching impact.

“Huge concerns about the impact on the economy of our East Midlands region following the announcement by @RollsRoyce of 4,000 job losses,” wrote councillor Alan Rhodes, Labour group leader on Nottinghamshire County Council, on Twitter.

“All stakeholders and politicians must set aside their differences and work together to address this very serious situation.”

Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, called the news “a damning indictment of this government’s hands-off approach to industry. What’s the point of an industrial strategy if you can’t save the vital industry we have left, let alone grow the economy?”

Widespread redundancies will have a negative effect not just on workers and their families but also on “the future of skills in this much-needed sector and the health of the local economy,” the Press Association reported shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey as saying.

The announcement comes despite some positivity at the company, said business secretary Greg Clark.

“Rolls-Royce has informed me that the announcement does not reflect a reduction in growth by the company, indeed the reverse,” the BBC reported him saying in parliament. "Rolls-Royce has a growing order book of over £170bn and Mr East told me that they will need more staff in the manufacture of components and assembly to meet that demand."

Restructuring will cost £500m but will save £400m per year by the end of 2020, Rolls-Royce said. Since 2010, the company has invested over £11bn in R&D, factories and modern facilities. It launched six new civil engines, and is going through its biggest ever increase in large engine production.

Last week, the GMB union revealed that 600,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the UK over 10 years. The losses – which do not include recent cuts at BAE Systems, Jaguar Land Rover and now Rolls-Royce – are a result of government uncertainty around Brexit, GMB national secretary Jude Brimble claimed.

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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