Thousands of jobs could have gone at Rolls-Royce’s Derby civil aerospace division had the city not been selected for the £150 million package of investment announced today.
That is the view of trade union officials who have campaigned for the investment to come to Derby since 2014.
The future of Rolls-Royce’s civil aerospace division in Derby has been secured for the next 30 years as the company has decided that a £90 million engine test bed will be built in the city, instead of overseas. Read the full story here.
At least 6,000 jobs will now be kept at the civil aerospace division at Sinfin, ending fears that Brexit and foreign public sector funding would see Rolls-Royce reject Derby. The test bed will be used to help Rolls-Royce develop the next generation of engines, as well as test existing ones.
Ian Wilson, a Rolls-Royce convenor who worked along Unite to secure the investment for Derby, said the investment package would secure thousands of jobs at Sinfin for years and years to come.
“In my career at Rolls-Royce, and I’ve been here for 31 years, it is the biggest single thing we’ve done,” Mr Wilson said. “Had this investment not been announced, all those highly-skilled jobs which we’ve fought so hard for would have been lost.
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“We’ve fought tooth and nail to keep jobs in Derby, as did the guys before us, and we will continue to do that. These are massively skilled jobs that we look after and it’s great for Derby that they will be staying here.”
Fellow convenor Steve Hibbert agreed. He said: “If this bed had gone elsewhere, we would have been looking at big staff reductions. Now we are going to sustain the Derby workforce. This has stopped the train and now we can build on it.
“We’ve been putting pressure on Rolls-Royce to make this investment for the past two-and-a-half years, because the last investment was in Germany, as the German government was willing to give them money. At the point, we knew that the next generation test bed would have to be in the UK. If that didn’t happen, production at this site in Derby would have drained off, because wherever the test bed goes, that’s where production goes.
“I’ve done some big deals on pensions, but this is the biggest deal we’ve done. We should be proud of what we’ve done here.”
The deal reached between Rolls-Royce and Unite also means the union will be involved in the company’s strategic planning. “That’s important,” said Mr Hibbert. “That gives us a safeguard going forward.”
Rolls-Royce says the £150m investment will “sustain” 7,000 jobs across its sites in Derby, Hucknall and Annesley.
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However, Tony Tinley, regional officer at Unite, believes today’s news will also safeguard tens of thousands of jobs throughout the supply chain.
He said: “By developing the manufacturing base, the supply chain also benefits. The impact is wide across the East and West Midlands. For every job there is here, there are about four jobs in the supply chain that rely on Rolls-Royce.”
Mr Tinley added the £150m investment meant there was a “far better platform” for lots more jobs to be created in the future.
“The opportunity is there now to build in the future,” he said. “In a couple of years’ time, we like to think we’ll be able to say that because we’ve got the new test bed, the opportunity is there now for the business to grow. That wasn’t the case until now.”
Deputy convenor Karl Daly described the news as a “huge game changer”.
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He said: “I know the previous convenor who left this site 18 months ago. He had a meeting with the then chief operating officer, and when the subject of the new test bed came up he replied, ‘why would I build it in Derby when I can get it paid for by somebody else elsewhere’ – in other words, in Germany. Since then, the company’s attitude towards investing in Derby has significantly changed.
“For a number of years now, most areas of the business has been deprived of genuine investment. There’s been money spent, but not genuine investment. This is a complete game-changer. There’s now a completely difficult attitude and it’s one that, in my view, we should be very excited about.
“Had this investment gone elsewhere, there would have been further shrinkage of Rolls-Royce’s footprint in Derby. Where that would have ended, we can only guess.”
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Source: Derby Telegraph