Rolls workers want pay hike as profits soar

THE Rolls-Royce site in Hucknall
THE Rolls-Royce site in Hucknall
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ROCKETING profits announced by Rolls-Royce have persuaded unions to call for pay demands to be met at the aerospace giant’s plant in Hucknall.

The firm is the town’s biggest employer with 800 workers at its site on Watnall Road.

Although the global economy stalled last year in the wake of the recession, Rolls saw underlying profits jump by £40 million before tax from £915 million to £955 million.

It also booked in £12.3 billion worth of new orders last year.

Now the Unite union says this justifies its calls for workers to receive a bumper pay increase of 6.55% — 4.8% to cover the current rate of inflation and a further 1.75% on top.

Mark Tittley, joint chief negotiator for Unite (Staff), representing Rolls workers at Hucknall and Derby, said: “These are a good set of results achieved by the hard work and skill of the workforce.

“We recognise that we have been in a period of austerity, not just at the company but also worldwide for the past two years. That’s why Rolls-Royce workers were prepared to accept only a two per cent rise two years ago.”

He added: “On the basis of these results, we hope the company will be taking a positive, sensible and timely response to the claim we have put in on behalf of our workers.”

Negotiations on pay will continue behind closed doors between Rolls and the unions.

But after the publication of the company’s results, Mark King, president of aerospace at the firm, recognised the efforts of the staff on the ground.

He said: “It has been a year of progress for Rolls-Royce, despite tough market-conditions and unexpected events. I would like to thank all of our employees for their dedication and hard work.”

The historic Rolls site in Hucknall was a renowned testbed for aero engines for many years but is now the company’s national centre for the manufacture of combustion components (engine parts).

The world-renowned firm’s excellent financial results come despite controversy late last year when one of its engines exploded in mid-air and forced a jet to make an emergency landing.

The Qantas Airbus A380 was carrying 450 passengers when a Trent 900 — an engine type originally tested in Hucknall — burst into flames on Thursday November 4. Qantas is now taking legal action against Rolls for the financial impact.

Despite this, Rolls’s chief executive, Sir John Rose, said he was pleased with a strong 2010, which had delivered record underlying revenues and profits.

He added: “At the end of March, I will retire as chief executive after 15 years. It has been an extraordinary privilege to work with so many outstanding people and to contribute to the development of a business that has been at the forefront of engineering and technology for more than 100 years.”