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Rolls-Royce to cut 9,000 jobs in aerospace due to pandemic

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Aerospace giant Rolls-Royce has said it expects to cut “at least” 9,000 jobs from its 52,000 global workforce as the Covid-19 pandemic takes its toll on the sector.

The firm described the impact of the virus as “unprecedented” and said it expects it will take several years before it can return to the levels of productivity seen before the outbreak.

In addition to the job cuts, it plans to lower expenditure across plant and property, capital and other indirect cost areas for a combined saving of more than £1.3bn. The reduction in headcount is expected to account for around £700m of the savings.

Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said that although the crisis was not of the firm’s making it is one “we must face and we must deal with”.

“Our airline customers and airframe partners are having to adapt and so must we. Being told that there is no longer a job for you is a terrible prospect and it is especially hard when all of us take so much pride in working for Rolls-Royce.

“But we must take difficult decisions to see our business through these unprecedented times. Governments across the world are doing what they can to assist businesses in the short-term, but we must respond to market conditions for the medium-term until the world of aviation is flying again at scale, and governments cannot replace sustainable customer demand that is simply not there.”

Negotiations will now begin with trade unions before any figures for job losses in the UK are agreed, but East said most of the cuts will be in the company’s civil aerospace business.

Around two-thirds of the UK employees work in the civil aerospace side, giving an idea of where the impact will be felt the most.

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite, said: “The news that Rolls-Royce is preparing to throw thousands of skilled, loyal, world-class workers, their families and communities under the bus during the worst public health crisis since 1918 is shameful opportunism.

“This company has accepted public money to furlough thousands of workers. Unite and Britain’s taxpayers deserve a more responsible approach to a national emergency. We call upon Rolls-Royce to step back from the brink and work with us on a better way through this crisis.”

Rolls-Royce is one Britain's best known industrial names and supplies engines for large aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350.

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