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Coronavirus: Scotland to launch working group to save jobs at Rolls-Royce plant

The Rolls Royce Inchinan factory in Scotland. Jet engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce was expected to cut 20% of it's workforce, including 700 jobs at the Inchinnan plant, following a sharp decline in business as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The Scottish government announced a working group will be set up with the aim of protecting jobs at a Rolls-Royce (RR.L) factory.

The aerospace giant, hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, earlier said 700 jobs at the plant were at risk. It is believed that most of the jobs are in the aerospace division.

In a letter to Labour MSP Neil Bibby, business minister Jamie Hepburn said: “There is no doubt that the market projections for the aerospace sector and Rolls-Royce are grave, but the Scottish Government remains determined to understand what more can be done to save jobs and try to mitigate the devastating impact of recent announcements for the Inchinnan site,” where the plant is located.

The group will include representatives of the company, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.

Hepburn said the working group will be “under no illusions as to the gravity of the task at hand,” adding: “The disruptive effect of the pandemic on the industry will also influence its future shape.

“The projections are that the path to recovery will be long and slow. The most positive estimates are that this will take at least 18 months.

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He said there is general consensus within the industry that suggests it will take five years or more to get to pre-COVID levels of activity, as demand for new aircraft and aerospace services will not return until there is a significant upturn in demand for air travel.

Meanwhile, Bibby said: “The jobs at Rolls-Royce Inchinnan are vital to the west of Scotland economy and no stone should be left unturned in saving them. There is a future for the workforce if Rolls Royce and governments at all levels stand by them.

Rolls-Royce said last month it plans to cut at least 9,000 jobs, with UK factories set to be hardest hit.

Scottish National Party MP Gavin Newlands had called on the government to do more to support the sector and those whose jobs are under threat.

He said: “The leadership at Rolls Royce have been very clear to us, that they have been sensitive to their workforce, which is why they have introduced a voluntary scheme first of all.

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