Bombardier fears confirmed

Posted on 6 Jul 2011 by The Manufacturer

The job losses feared at train maker, Bombardier, were confirmed last night as the company prepares to almost halve its UK presence.

A 90 day review process is now underway at Derby-based Bombardier following the decision to axe 1,400 jobs from the site which now employs 3000.

The job losses will be spread across 446 permanent positions and 983 temporary contracts. The review process which is now underway will decide who goes.

Calls for the government to review its decision to award a lucrative manufacturing contract for the production of 1,200 carriages for the much delayed Thameslink project, have proved futile. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has flatly said that such a review would be impossible.

The decision to located the manufacturing of the new rolling stock for Thameslink in Germany, was taken in line with EU directives which preclude government from awarding contracts on the basis of geography. Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has indicated that these rules are unsatisfactory and has called for a review of EU procurement regulations. Any changes put into action however, will come too late for Bombardier’s employees.

Nor will the news that Siemens’, the company which won the Thameslink bid, will create 2000 new jobs in the UK be of much comfort. Many of these jobs will fall outside the experience of the Bombardier staff since only 300 of them will be involved in manufacturing, and, in addition they will located in Hebburn, South Tyneside, over 160 miles from Derby. Another blow for regional balance in the UK.

The criticism being thrown at government over the Bombardier job losses may not be entirely justified however.

It has come to light that future prospects in the UK had already caused the train maker to consider cutting 1,200 jobs, prior to the Thameslink decision. This would have been in response to a general dwindling of contracts in Europe.

Francis Paonessa, president of the passengers division for Bombardier in the UK commented: “The culmination and successful delivery of these projects and the loss of the Thameslink contract, which would have secured workload at this site, means that it is inevitable that we must adjust capacity in line with economic reality.”