Rolls-Royce is the second largest aircraft jet engine manufacturer in the world. Their Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has stated:
“Today the industry faces a real challenge. If demand for air travel grows in line with current projections, and other sectors are able to decarbonise more quickly, emissions from the aviation industry will grow significantly as a proportion of the total. Under some scenarios, this could approach 25% in a couple of decades – and even sooner if the world moves faster and we do not. We urgently need to pioneer flight without adding more CO2 to the atmosphere.”
- Warren East, Rolls-Royce CEO, source.
Union representatives in Rolls-Royce across three UK sites, together with local environmental and community activists, have developed their own transition plans for sustainable and green manufacturing, and lifted threats of closure. Their plan covers three Rolls-Royce sites, in Ansty (near Coventry), Barnoldswick (Lancashire), and Inchinnan (Renfrewshire), that currently produce turbine blades and other parts for jet engines.
In May 2020, in the middle of the shut-down of aviation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the three sites were targeted by the company for closure as part of a major restructuring plan that would have cut at least 9,000 jobs globally.
After protest and strike action by Unite and GMB members, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was finally negotiated for each site in February 2021. The company agreed to keep Barnoldswick open for at least 10 years, and Ansty and Inchinnan open for five years.
What’s more, the union agreement secured a commitment by Rolls-Royce to open a ‘centre of excellence’ training school at the Barnoldswick site to support the development and manufacturing of zero-carbon technologies.
Unite the Union members and reps in aviation manufacturing are campaigning to retool their sites to produce zero-carbon technology. Across three Rolls-Royce sites, union reps have developed plans for green manufacturing that could future-proof jobs by providing a long-term future and security.
The reps described that the best way to get buy-in and members excited about a just transition was to:
- Include union members in discussions from the start
- Present a vision where the Green Industrial Revolution will be delivered by workers and communities, not by managers
- Place workers in the driving seat in coming up with ideas for new products
Pushing for a Green New Deal at Rolls Royce: https://www.tuc.org.uk/blogs/pushing-green-new-deal-rolls-royce
The greatest threat to air travel: https://www.rolls-royce.com/media/our-stories/insights/2020/aviation-must-go-low-carbon.aspx