Anger as Bombardier unveils 1,400 job cuts

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The Independent Online

Unions and opposition politicians yesterday called on the Government to give national interests higher priority after Britain's last train maker blamed missing out on a state contract for its decision to cut more than 1,400 jobs.

The UK division of Canada's Bombardier said it was cutting 446 permanent jobs and 983 contract staff at its Derby plant, which employs 3,000.

Last month, Bombardier lost out to Germany's Siemens in bidding to build 1,200 carriages for the Thameslink route between Bedford and Brighton.

Bombardier said that by the end of September work would be finished on two contracts and only one would remain. "The culmination and successful delivery of these projects and the loss of the Thameslink contract, which would have secured workload at this site, means it is inevitable we must adjust capacity in line with economic reality," said Francis Paonessa, the president of Bombardier UK's passenger trains division.

The Government said it had chosen Siemens because it offered the best value for money and because EU rules do not allow governments to favour companies based in their countries. But unions pointed out that Germany and France regularly favoured their own manufacturers when awarding contracts.

Bob Crow, the general-secretary of the RMT union, said: "It's a scandal that the Government [is] colluding with the European Union in a policy of industrial vandalism. The German rail giant Deutsche Bahn awarded a £5bn fleet contract to German company Siemens and no one batted an eyelid."

The Unite union said the decision threatened Bombardier's plant in Derby and the local supply chain, which is heavily dependent on the railway industry.

John Denham, the shadow Business Secretary, and Maria Eagle, the shadow Transport Secretary, have written to David Cameron asking the Prime Minister to review the decision. The Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, said Bombardier had warned of more than 1,000 redundancies regardless of the Thameslink bid. A review of the process was impossible because it was set in stone by the previous Labour government, he added.

But he admitted: "There is a need to examine the wider issue of whether the UK is making best use of the application of EU procurement rules. The Business Secretary and I have written to the Prime Minister on this issue."