140 UK jobs go as Rolls-Royce wields axe

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The Independent Online

Rolls-Royce plans to cut up to 2,000 jobs worldwide, including 140 in the UK, after reviewing the impact of the current economic "uncertainties", the aerospace giant announced today.

The firm said it had started consulting unions about the proposed job losses at its assembly and test facility in Derby, part of the group's civil aerospace business.

Rolls-Royce, which employs 39,000 workers globally, 60 per cent of whom are based in the UK, said the announcement was the first stage in a more general programme aimed at matching the group's capacity more closely with the expected load in its facilities.

"Rolls-Royce has been reviewing the possible impact of current economic uncertainties, delays on individual programmes, such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787, and the benefits of the group's continuing focus on efficiency," the company said.

The company said that around 1,500 to 2,000 jobs will be cut in 2009.

The cuts account for around 4 per cent of the total workforce of Rolls-Royce, which said it will now enter into detailed consultations at sites affected.

Rolls-Royce announced in January that it would continue its focus on efficiency by reducing by 2,300 during 2008 the number of staff working in overhead functions, a programme that is now largely complete.

The company has been reducing its temporary workforce in a bid to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Rolls-Royce chief executive Sir John Rose said: "We are determined to maintain our focus on cost reduction and competitiveness as the world economy enters a challenging period.

"It is too early to determine the precise effects of the global economic downturn and programme delays. However, we wanted to give all our employees an early indication of the likely scale of the job reductions we expect in 2009."

Unite national officer Bernie Hamilton said the announcement was "bitterly disappointing".

He added: "Rolls-Royce must take a measured approach to this temporary downturn in the airline industry. In the past the company has cut too many jobs and Rolls-Royce struggled to meet the upturn in the market.

"If there are to be redundancies in the UK they must be voluntary. Unite will not accept any compulsory redundancies.

"Unite is urging the government to use the Pre-Budget Report to support UK manufacturing and encourage companies to retain workers so that when the market conditions improve a skill shortage is not the outcome.

"We have a world class aerospace industry; we must retain these highly skilled jobs at all costs."