Anxious unions urge Rolls to speed sell-off

Unions representing almost 900 staff employed at Rolls-Royce's power generation division in Derby are to meet the group's senior management today to urge them to speed up the sale of the business in the face of imminent job cuts.

The representatives hope to hear from John Rose, Rolls-Royce chief executive, whether a buyer for the business, International Combustion, has been found following last week's sale of the company's Parsons steam turbine division on Tyneside to Siemens of Germany for pounds 30m.

Today's meeting comes as Rolls-Royce prepares to make 180 of the 890 workers at the plant redundant next month. The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions fears the company has been unnecessarily delaying the sale, putting hundreds more jobs at risk. The last word from the employers suggested that the sell-off may not take place for "weeks or months".

Roger Smith, of the joint union committee at the company, said: "I don't think anybody at this late stage can prevent the latest round of job cuts, but we are worried that if things drag on much longer the whole business won't be viable. This must be sorted out soon."

Rolls-Royce threatened Derby with sale or closure at the same time as Parsons last July, taking a pounds 250m charge to cover write-offs and redundancy costs for the two businesses.

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