Rolls to shed 600 jobs in Scotland

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Rolls-Royce, the aerospace company, is cutting 600 skilled engineering jobs in Scotland as development of its Trent jet engine moves into its final stages.

Sir Ralph Robins, chairman, said the £114m research and development budget would be lower now that Trent had moved from design to production.

The job cuts, at East Kilbride, will leave about 1,000 workers at the site who will concentrate on repair and overhaul. Rolls said there was no question of winding down R&D work. "It is all to do with the engine development cycle, and may no doubt pick up again at some future date," a spokesman said.

The Trent, the group's most powerful engine, enters service next month in the Airbus A330 for Cathay Pacific.

The Scottish design and development team's most recent successes are the Tay engine and the V2500 built by a multi-national consortium. Work on them will be transferred to sites at Derby and Bristol.

Cuts were hinted at when the interim results were announced in September. They showed a 29 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £40m, despite a 14 per cent dip in sales to £1.5bn. Rolls said the job losses would be covered by excess cash from the £200m provisions it made two years ago, and would not affect the bottom line.

The spokesman said that Rolls-Royce's order book was approaching £6bn, though 1994 was not a good year for new orders. He expected 1995 would continue to be tough, and improved efficiency was the only way to improve margins. Last week Rolls, which employs 40,000, said it had won a series of overhaul contracts worth a total of £150m, with East Kilbride sharing some work.

The cuts were condemned by unions and politicians as a waste of talent. The Manufacturing Science and Finance union, which is seeking urgent talks over the losses, accused the Government of "doing nothing to prevent the demise of this vital, wealth-creating industry".

Larry Brooke, national officer, said: "Many of those facing redundancy are highly skilled engineers, designers and technicians. It is a waste of talent having them claiming the dole."

The union's fear that some design work will be transferred to the US, where Rolls has bought the Allison engine giant, was rejected by the company.

Labour's Scottish employment spokesman, John McFall, said: "The most worrying thing is these are the flagship high-quality, high-tech jobs Labour has been warning Scotland needs to retain and develop if we are to be industry leaders."