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Rolls-Royce workers move towards action on pay

20 September 2022

Made in Derby: Rolls-Royce Trent 900, a high bypass turbofan produced by Rolls-Royce plc to power the Airbus A380. Photo Tibboh (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Unions at aerospace and defence company Rolls-Royce are to ballot for industrial action after talks on pay broke down at the beginning of September. The decision feeds into the already overflowing melting pot of disputes throughout the country and can only add pressure on the profiteering ruling class.

The company had hoped to avoid industrial action by its workforce in Britain with a third pay offer after further negotiations with the Unite and GMB unions’ joint national bargaining groups ended in early August.

Falling short

The 6.5 per cent no strings pay deal went to a ballot after Rolls-Royce said that it was final offer and that it could afford no more. It falls short of the rate demanded at the start of negotiations in January 2022 of 8.87 per cent.

The ballot result came on 18 August, with mixed results: three of the four bargaining groups rejected the company’s offer. The company then contacted the trade union to set up a meeting to try, it said, to find a resolution to the dispute and expressed the importance of doing so without further delay. 

No improvement

Two weeks later the company and the unions met. Yet there was no improved offer. According to the union, Rolls-Royce did suggest a two-year pay deal but refused to link it to the Retail Prices Index. 

To add insult to injury, it even said it would not entertain a double-digit rise in 2023 – even though inflation is forecast to rise to 18 per cent and beyond. Instead, Rolls-Royce told the unions they needed to manage the members’ expectations and said it did not feel the unions were doing a good enough job of that.