Steve Score, East Midlands Socialist Party secretary
The job losses announced at engineering giant Rolls-Royce are a massive blow to Derby. Like everywhere else, full-time, secure jobs have long been disappearing leaving largely insecure, low-paid work in their place.
Rolls-Royce has now confirmed 4,600 job losses, 3,000 in the UK with most from its 14,000 Derby workforce.
Bosses are saying most of those are “middle management and back office positions”, although some are design engineers. But it’s not top bosses who are losing their jobs – these are workers with families.
It will have a devastating effect on the economy in Derby, already hit by the loss of thousands of jobs over the last few years, including 5,500 from Rolls-Royce.
This isn’t because the company is making a loss, it’s because it wants to make even more profit by restructuring. It has recently reported a pre-tax profit of £4.9 billion. Most of this is described by Chief Executive Warren East as an “accounting measure”, but the underlying profits were still £1.1 billion.
Even when they reported an “accounting” loss the year before, East got a £916,000 bonus to top his pay up to £2.1 million for the year!
Unite is seeking guaranteed no compulsory redundancies after a deal struck last year to protect 7,000 engineering jobs.
Some union officials, repeated by Derby South Labour MP Margaret Beckett, are using the phrase that Rolls-Royce shouldn’t “cut too deep and too fast.” But this implies acceptance of some jobs going.
All job losses must be fought – we cannot allow the bosses to divide us. If they get rid of this group of workers, they will come for others in the future. Any action must therefore include the whole workforce.
The unions must act now! Immediate meetings of the entire workforce should be organised to discuss how to fight the proposed losses.
When Bombardier was under threat in 2010 the unions organised a march of thousands through Derby. This should happen again as it will raise the confidence of workers to take further action if the company does not back down.
A march would be the start and would also bring the whole community together and raise the confidence to fight all cuts in Derby. Not just at Rolls-Royce.
Unions and the Labour leadership should demand the renationalisation of Rolls-Royce – as was done under a Tory government in 1971. But this time it should be with compensation only the basis of proven need as part of a plan to keep it permanently publicly owned and democratically controlled.
Instead of consultants paid huge amounts to come in and decide on restructuring, the people who really know how to make the business more efficient are the workers themselves. But this raises the need for democratic workers control and management, and requires public ownership to achieve it.
- No job losses
- Unions should call mass meetings to discuss action by the whole workforce in defence of jobs
- For a mass community march for jobs led by the unions
- Nationalise Rolls-Royce to save jobs