Having secured government cash to put over 4,000 of its British employees on furlough, Rolls Royce is now planning to go ahead anyway and dump 3,375 of its workforce in east Derbyshire and Renfrewshire, dealing a further sickening blow to what little remains of the manufacturing life of Derby. This is part of a worldwide contraction, with Rolls Royce slashing 9,000 of its global workforce of 52,000.
The company exclusively blames the health emergency for this cull of jobs, and this clearly has a bearing on the timing of the announcement. However the underlying overproduction crisis had already pressured Rolls Royce into contracting its labour force, as Derby can well testify.
In 2018 it axed thousands of jobs at Derby’s civil aerospace site, shedding back office staff and middle managers, and now it’s back for more. The pandemic has been seized upon as a pretext to press on with cuts, conveniently presenting as an ‘act of God’ what is essentially a consequence of capitalist crisis, albeit aggravated by the pandemic.
If Rolls Royce is incapable of preserving and developing this manufacturing linchpin of the East Midlands, then let its Derby operation come under public ownership, if necessary repurposed to focus on the manufacture of products of genuine social need.