Union joy as ruling rewards loyalty of Rolls-Royce workers
UNIONS at Rolls-Royce in Derby have said that staff are "over the moon" after a court ruling that will help protect long-serving employees from being first in line for redundancy.
Judges sitting at the Civil Court of Appeal in London upheld a decision that veteran workers at Rolls-Royce should be rewarded for their loyalty by being put at the bottom of the redundancy list.
elated: Mick Lomax says the decision will help Unite members right across the UK.
The case focused on a previous agreement between Rolls-Royce and unions that long service should be taken into consideration when it came to assessing which workers should be made redundant.
As part of the criteria, workers are given points for every consecutive year of service.
But Rolls-Royce, which employs a combined total of about 12,000 people at its civil aerospace and marine divisions in Derby, feared that giving preference to long-serving workers over mainly younger colleagues would put it in breach of Government ageism legislation.
Union Unite was adamant that veteran workers should be rewarded for their experience and loyalty and challenged the firm's position.
After an appeal by Rolls-Royce, judges ruled on Thursday that the "points" agreement between the company and the union was not unlawful.
Mick Lomax, Unite's joint chief negotiator at Rolls-Royce in Derby, said that workers had been lifted by the decision.
He said: "There was elation on the shop floor. Everybody has been talking about it. We knew we were right.
"The company said it was simply seeking clarification, but if that was the case why did they appeal against the original decision?
"But we are over the moon. Our legal team did a fantastic job. The ruling also has benefits not just for Rolls-Royce workers, but Unite members all over the UK."
Derek Simpson, Unite's general secretary, said the decision could help protect thousands of other long-serving workers facing redundancy.
He said: "The ruling sets a precedent, where other factors are equal, for redundancy.
"It has always been clear to Unite that loyalty seen in length of service should be recognised when an employer takes the drastic step of making redundancy dismissals.
"We look forward to using this decision to help defend our members' rights in many other companies as well as Rolls-Royce."
In March, Unite said 90 Rolls-Royce staff at Derby had been told they were at "high risk" of losing their jobs.
In February, unions claimed the company was shedding 380 posts. The majority of these cuts were made through voluntary redundancies and through some staff being found posts elsewhere in the company.
But around 80 shop-floor workers and about 10 office staff still remained at risk of redundancy.
Mr Lomax said: "We are working hard with management to limit these redundancies. The figure now stands at around 80, with 11 office staff at risk and around 60 to 70 on the shop floor.
"We will continue to work hard to ensure as many people as possible stay in a job."