Council Leader writes letter to Rolls-Royce

Published: Monday 15 June 2020

A photo of council leader John Ross in front of Hamilton Mausoleum

The leader of South Lanarkshire Council has written an open letter to the CEO of Rolls-Royce.

Councillor John Ross has addressed the letter to Warren East in light of the jobs at risk at the firm's site at Inchinnan.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr East,

I am writing to you regarding your announcement that 700 people are at risk of losing their jobs at Rolls Royce’s site at Inchinnan.  While that announcement caused me great disappointment and has dismayed so many local people, I am reaching out to you in a spirit of co-operation.  I hope you will receive this message in that spirit and will be willing to engage with local authorities, the Scottish Government and its agencies, and staff representatives, to deliver the best possible future for our local communities and the economy.

While I speak for the wider Glasgow City Region on Skills and Employability matters, I also have a particular interest in this subject as Leader of South Lanarkshire Council.  As you know, East Kilbride and Rolls Royce were synonymous for decades, a historic link that was only broken in 2018 when the East Rogerton test bed was shut.  Three years before then, when the main site in the town was closed, some 600 Rolls Royce workers were transferred to Inchinnan. A large number of those workers still live in East Kilbride or elsewhere in South Lanarkshire, and inevitably many of them will now be affected by the redundancies planned at Inchinnan. In other words, having uprooted themselves just five years ago, after being told it was the only way to save their jobs, they now find themselves at significant risk of being out of work anyway.

The departure of Rolls Royce was a significant blow for the town of East Kilbride and all of South Lanarkshire.  Part of our industrial heritage was lost forever, and your company left East Kilbride without putting in place anything significant in terms of an economic legacy or offering support for the future.  That was and remains a matter of real regret for the community of East Kilbride and South Lanarkshire as a whole.

However, as I said, the main purpose of this letter is to urge you not to repeat those decisions.  We all understand that every business, large or small, is having to contend with the devastating blow that is Covid-19.  We have never had to contend with something of this scale, but here in South Lanarkshire we have been reaching out to help local businesses and to assist those affected by job losses.  We do this because we believe that when it comes to responding to the pandemic, we are all in it together.  I am urging you, Mr East, and Rolls Royce, to take the same approach.

As a Council Leader and as Skills and Employability spokesman for the City Region, I want to help you find the right way forward for your employees, the local companies that support Rolls Royce that will also be impacted, and indeed your own company.  One day, hopefully in the near future, the economy will pick up, including aviation and other industries that Rolls Royce are involved in.  I would urge you to see the benefits there will be if, as that recovery does develop, you already have one of the best workforces in the world.

The City Region is here to help you, and I know that the Scottish Government is keen to do everything possible to protect local jobs and sustain the local economy, and has established a working group to see what can be done.  We ask simply that you put your redundancy plans on hold and work with us all to find a better future.  Above all, please do not leave Inchinnan in the way you left East Kilbride, and do not let down for a second time those loyal staff who moved to a new place of work many miles away because that way, you said, their livelihoods would be protected.

Please be advised that, given the importance of this issue, I will be releasing this as an open letter, in my roles as Leader of South Lanarkshire Council and Skills and Employability lead for the Glasgow City Region.

Yours sincerely
Councillor John Ross
South Lanarkshire Council