The UK’s last train manufacturer Bombardier has announced major job losses at its Derby site following the loss of the Thameslink contract. The announcement follows their previously announced decision to review their entire UK operation.
Bombardier have today denied DfT claims that the workforce was under threat regardless of the contract. The company has confirmed that they made it clear to the DfT that, if they were successful in winning Thameslink, then there would have been no compulsory redundancies and would have managed the temporary staff, many of whom would have returned to work on the Thameslink contract. They have also today confirmed that they made it clear to the DfT that, if they were successful in winning Thameslink, they would have invested in their Derby facility to make it a worldwide centre of excellence in the manufacture of aluminium train bodies.
Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said:
“This is a black day for the only company which designs, builds, maintains and exports trains from the UK. The loss of the Thameslink contract has dealt a body blow to the UK rail manufacturing sector from which it is not clear it can recover. Today’s news will be devastating to the local work force and supply chain. The Government needs to consider the effect this will have on the company’s ability to retain the skills and manufacturing excellence that is essential to winning future contracts and competing with the best in the world.
“There is a long way to go in this procurement process which has only reached preferred bidder stage. It is unbelievable that the Transport Secretary has already washed his hands of the situation and is claiming that there is nothing he can do except write to the Prime Minister about his own decision. He must look again at the value for money case, taking into account the wider economic consequences and the impact on the supply chain. In the meantime, he must do everything possible in negotiations with the Siemens’ consortium to ensure that Britain’s economy sees the benefits from this contract. The Government must also set out how we can better ensure forthcoming orders, like Crossrail and the proposed new high speed trains, benefit British jobs and manufacturing.
“David Cameron personally promised to support local manufacturing when he held his Cabinet in Derby just three months ago. It’s time that he kept his promise and agreed to the independent review that Labour has demanded. Britain needs to grow its way out of the current economic difficulties we face, and today’s announcement shows how far away from achieving this we really are.”
John Denham MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, have written to the Prime Minister urging him to review the decision. In their joint letter dated 2 July 2011, they said:
"It is our belief that the loss of the contract could critically damage Britain’s last train manufacturing company. It could affect the inward investment that Bombardier makes in its own operations across the UK, and to the many suppliers which rely on it. And it raises serious questions about Britain’s ability to be a world-leading base for manufacturing.
"It is essential that we do all that we can to support our manufacturing businesses. If we do not, British companies will continue to lose out to our global competitors. This will mean more jobs will be lost overseas, and more communities feeling the pain of seeing their sources of employment disappear. If the taxpayer is really going to see the best result from the awarding of such contracts, we must take into consideration the impact on the UK’s competitiveness.
"The Thameslink contract needs to undergo a full independent review. A review must take into account the effect on the UK economy that the loss of this contract to a foreign consortium would create. The review must also look at the social impact on the UK’s workforce, both for those directly employed by Bombardier and those in the wider supply chain."