Rolls-Royce coronavirus package puts health & safety centre stage, says Unite

Unite the union has hammered out a package, with health and safety at its heart, with engineering giant Rolls-Royce to financially protect the 20,000 UK workforce during the coronavirus emergency.

Rolls-Royce has major plants in Derby, Bristol, Glasgow and Barnoldswick, Lancashire.

Unite regional officer Tony Tinley, responsible for the union’s members at the 12,000-strong Derby workforce, said: “Our reps have worked really hard to achieve a stringent health & safety regime, with such features as a one-way system, which will enable the required employees to continue to work during the coronavirus emergency.  

“Throughout the constructive talks with management, Unite has adopted a three-pronged approach: the vital importance of health & safety; protecting the jobs and incomes of our members in the short-term; and securing the long-term employment future of our members and the prosperity of the company.”

Two key features of the deal are:

  • A 10 per cent pay delay for the year from April 2020, which will be paid back in the year starting April 2021. This applies to Rolls-Royce’s global workforce.
  • For the next three weeks, workers, who are not required, will be furloughed on full pay under the government’s job retention scheme which guarantees 80 per cent of pay, with the company paying the other 20 per cent. Talks are on-ongoing as to what happens after the end of the month.

Rolls-Royce closed production at Derby last week, but is opening up gradually this week, under the new safety regime, and up to 60 per cent of the workforce could be employed on a rotation shift system.

Unite regional officer Tony Tinley added: “Airplanes are still flying bringing in medicines and other supplies, so there is a current demand for Rolls-Royce’s superb products.

 “What we have achieved at Rolls-Royce is a template that other companies could follow in terms of workers’ incomes and safety protections.

“We want to work constructively with aerospace companies across the region so when this emergency ends there is a strong platform to make the most of the aerospace engineering opportunities that will be available as the global economy recovers.”

Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands Paresh Patel said: “Rolls-Royce is the jewel in the East Midlands manufacturing crown and we need to secure the future of the aerospace sector within the regional economy and beyond. We have also to safeguard the supply chain, employing thousands of workers, which is heavily reliant on Rolls Royce.

“Unite continues to make the case to government of the importance of the UK’s manufacturing base and the need to protect firms and their workforces at this exceptionally difficult time for the economy.”

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