“Today’s announcement by Rolls-Royce is another warning sign that the UK is in serious danger of losing its leading position in aerospace, in addition to losing thousands of skilled jobs.
“Unite understands the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on the aviation and aerospace industries, with the likely scenario of a recovery to passenger demand for long-haul, wide-bodied jets, which Rolls Royce makes the engines for, not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024/2025.
“This is why Unite has negotiated with Rolls-Royce the opening of a voluntary severance scheme across the company to mitigate any potential future redundancies and buy sometime so that Rolls-Royce can develop the Plan B that our members and other stakeholders so desperately need.
“The company’s defence and power divisions provide some protection in the short-term from further sweeping job losses, but this company urgently needs to develop a diversification plan to fill the gap in its civil aerospace division. It also has to move to bring new technologies to the market, building on the huge assets of the skills and factories it has in the UK.
“The UK government also has a key role in supporting diversification for the aviation and aerospace industries. We need them to be bold with levels of state investment and support last seen in the post-war period.
“More widely, the UK needs to develop a survival and recovery strategy that includes an aircraft scrappage scheme so that more environmentally friendly aircraft, wings and engines that the UK produces can be brought into service by airlines.
“Other countries such as France are already following this path; if we fail to follow suit we will see our competitors overtake us and help drive their economies out of the pandemic-induced recession while we lag behind and never catch up.