Rolls-Royce vows to pro­tect 7,000 jobs with £150m in­vest­ment

The Star (St. Lucia) - - BUSINESS -

Rolls-Royce has pledged to pro­tect 7,000 en­gi­neer­ing jobs in the east Mid­lands, UK as part of a £150m in­vest­ment, its largest sin­gle out­lay in the UK for more than a decade.

The en­gi­neer­ing firm struck a deal with trade unions that will safe­guard work for nearly a third of its 22,300-strong UK work­force for five years, as it pre­pares to dou­ble the num­ber of en­gines it builds.

Rolls-Royce will ditch plans to close a pre­ci­sion ma­chin­ing fa­cil­ity in Derby, sav­ing 150 jobs that were at risk, as well as cre­at­ing 200 new po­si­tions by build­ing a new test­ing fa­cil­ity for jet en­gines.

Of the £150m planned in­vest­ment, £90m will be spent on build­ing the “test­bed”, Roll­sRoyce’s sixth in Derby, where it puts en­gines des­tined for com­mer­cial jets through their paces.

The test­bed will be large enough for Rolls-Royce’s new range of Ul­traFan en­gines, which are bigger and de­signed to be more fuel ef­fi­cient than pre­vi­ous mod­els.

It will also use the site to test the Trent 900, which pow­ers the Air­bus A380 “su­per­jumbo”; the Trent 1000, used on Boe­ing’s “Dream­liner”; and the Trent XWB, which pow­ers the Air­bus A350 and has be­come the world’s fastest-sell­ing en­gine.

The over­all plan also in­cludes in­vest­ment in Rolls-Royce’s large en­gine main­te­nance, re­pair and over­haul fa­cil­ity, as well as the Huck­nall and An­nes­ley sites in Not­ting­hamshire.

The trade union Unite, which had been cam­paign­ing for ex­tra in­vest­ment from Roll­sRoyce, said the plan “ef­fec­tively se­cures the man­u­fac­tur­ing base of Roll-Royce in the UK for the next 20 years, along with 7,000 high-qual­ity jobs”.

The Unite gen­eral sec­re­tary, Len McCluskey, said: “This is great news for a world-beat­ing work­force mak­ing world-class en­gines and tes­ta­ment to the hard work of Unite’s shop stew­ards and mem­bers. It is a good day for Bri­tish man­u­fac­tur­ing that must not be un­done by a botched Brexit.

“The gov­ern­ment must now play its part by pur­su­ing a ‘jobs first’ Brexit and securing tar­iff-free ac­cess to the sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union. A fail­ure to do so risks fu­ture in­vest­ment and de­cent high qual­ity man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs.”

Rolls-Royce’s com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing UK jobs comes just four months af­ter it re­ported a £4.6bn pre-tax loss, the largest in its his­tory, due to the im­pact of Brexit on ster­ling and the cost of set­tling cor­rup­tion charges.

The busi­ness sec­re­tary, Greg Clark, said the in­vest­ment “un­der­pins the crit­i­cal role the UK plays within the global aero­space sec­tor”.

“The UK and Rolls-Royce are known through­out the world as pi­o­neers of ad­vanced en­gi­neer­ing tech­nol­ogy,” he added.

In prepa­ra­tion to dou­ble the num­ber of en­gines it builds, Rolls Royce has struck a deal with trade unions that will safe­guard work for nearly a third of its 22,300-strong UK work­force for five years.

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